NEWARK – Capitals coach Adam Oates wasn’t sure what role he would play when he was invited to participate in the Capitals’ draft plans.
He may wind up playing a critical role in convincing Vincent Lecavalier to sign with the Capitals as a compliance free agent. Oates acknowledged he has spoken with Lecavalier and tried to convince him to come to Washington.
“I don’t have an inkling of where he’ll go,” Oates told CSNWashington. “Obviously, given the situation with the cap, a lot of teams are after him.
“I think he’s a good hockey player. I coached him in Tampa and there are a lot of things I think he can bring to our team.”
The Caps have until Jan. 4 to re-sign Mike Ribeiro and it appears the two sides are prepared to go separate ways.
“We’re really happy with Mike, we all like Mike, and if it works out, good,” Oates said. “But if it doesn’t, then we’re all pros and we have to turn the page. That’s why we talked to Vinny. I just tried to provide information of what we’re about with our team and our players and our city and told him it would be a good fit.”
On Thursday the Lightning announced they would make Lecavalier a compliance buyout. He has seven years remaining o his contract with a cap hit of more than $7 million per season.
Once they buy him out the Bolts will have to pay him $32 million over the next 14 years.
Oates said his conversation with Lecavalier was “a little sterile,” but productive.
“It’s a unique situation with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and obviously a lot of teams are talking to him. You just talk, provide information and answer any questions he has.
“Vinny was the man there [in Tampa] and [Steven] Stamkos was coming to be the man. He was a big part of the franchise and a very good hockey player.”
Lecavalier, 33, scored 10 goals with 22 assists in 39 games last season. He averaged 23 goals in his previous three seasons in Tampa.
Oates said he thinks Lecavalier’s leadership on the ice would go a long way in Washington.
“As a team you want depth at every position,” he said. “Vinny’s a guy that, one of the things I really respected about him, is he wanted to play against the best players every night.
“He wanted the responsibility of playing against their best D every night, handling that pressure game in and game out. I think he’s a guy that if the day happens we go four rounds, he’ll be the guy standing there at the end of four rounds. That’s why teams are after him.”