NEWARK, N.J. – Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock met with former 50-goal scorer Vincent Lecavalier for 30-40 minutes Sunday morning.
Tampa Bay used one of its two compliance buyouts last week to part ways with Lecavalier, who spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Lightning.
Lecavalier will hit the open market on Friday when the free agency period begins.
The Red Wings are definitely interested in the 33-year-old veteran, who would give them a solid second-line center, while allowing them to keep Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk grouped on the top line. However, Holland was coy about his meeting with Lecavalier, who is reportedly seeking a five-year contract worth $5 million per season.
“They're talking to teams. We talked to him,” Holland said prior to the start of Sunday’s NHL draft at the Prudential Center. “I don't know what their process is. They reached out to say Vinny was going to be in (New York) this weekend, was going to meet as many teams that had interest to meet. We met this morning.”
Lecavalier, who scored 383 career goals in 1,037 games in Tampa Bay, grew up a fan of the Red Wings, specifically of former captain Steve Yzerman, who ironically as the Lightning’s GM was responsible for cutting Lecavalier.
“He has to make some decisions personally, what's on his priority list,” Holland said. “I don't know the process. They asked if we wanted to meet. We said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
TRADE TALKS & BUYOUTS: Teams have until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday to clear cap space for the 2013-14 season. While some teams have already announced buyout intensions there hasn’t been overwhelming noise yet.
Holland hasn’t decided what the Red Wings will do trade-wise or with their two buyouts.
“I don't know what to expect. I'm not even sure what we're doing,” he said. “We got until Wednesday or Thursday to make some decisions. I talked to, if not all the teams, 25-26 teams yesterday or Friday. Probably lots of teams are like I am, they're not sure what to make. There's lots of talk but I can't tell you I sense anything's really happening. There might be something happening with a team or two or three.”
“I talked to them all just now or yesterday,” Holland said. “Nothing imminent to report. We're going to continue to stay in touch.”
KINDL SIGNING: The Red Wings announced that they signed defenseman Jakub Kindl to a four-year contract worth $9.6 million
Kindl’s stock rose this season as he began to gain greater confidence. He played with more grit and purpose as he received increased playing time with a cluster of injuries during the season. He played the last 31 straight games of the regular season and in all 14 playoff games.
“We finished fifth in the league in goals-against last year, he was part of that defense,” Holland said. “It’s a young defense and we believe that it’s a defense that can get a little bit better and continue to be good defensively. Obviously when you don’t have (Nicklas) Lidstrom, don’t have (Brian) Rafalski, a lot of young defensemen are good defenders. We’re hoping that as they become more comfortable their offense comes with it, because like (Brendan) Smith, like Kindl, they were offensive guys in juniors and offensive guys in college. The first thing we want young defense to do is learn how to check, and Mike Babcock is asking those young defensemen to check, so I think it was a good signing for us.”
Kindl had a career-high four goals, including two game winners, while tying a career-high with 13 points in 41 games. He collected a goal – which happened to be the game winner in Game 4 against Chicago – and four assists in the playoffs. He also led all Wings’ defensemen in plus/minus in both the regular season (+15) and postseason (+4).
LOVE FOR WINGS’ PROSPECTS: Fifth overall pick Elias Lindholm has always looked up to Red Wings prospect Calle Jarnkrok.
That’s because the Swedish pair are more than Brynäs teammates in the Swedish Elite League, they’re cousins.
“When we was kids we were always at the dinners, always playing outdoor hockey, always seeing how good he is. He's been like a role model for me,” Lindholm said after he was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon. “We've been pretty close and I would say he's a good role model to be on the same ice for six years up to 15. So it's been great.”
Lindholm predicted that his cousin will eventually be an NHL all-star.
“He's quick. He's hard to stop in the corners. He's smart, got great vision,” Lindholm said. “Also, I would say he need maybe some toughness. I think if he practice hard, he's going to be successful in the NHL.''
Three of the first five players taken in Sunday’s first round have spent the last two years as teammates, including Red Wings prospects right wing Martin Frk.
For the last two years, Halifax left wing Jonathon Drouin played opposite Frk on the top line for the Mooseheads, who captured the Memorial Cup last month.
“Obviously everybody talks about me and Nathan, but a lot of people forget our linemate Marty Frk in helping us,” Drouin said, moments after being picked third overall by Tampa Bay. “Marty could probably score five points a game, and has a bomb of a shot, so it’s probably the best line that you could ever have.”
Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon was taken first overall by Colorado.
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