DETROIT – With the NHL free agency period a week away, the pool of players the Wings may be interested grew by one.
And it was one they’re going to be very interested in once July 5 rolls around.
The Tampa Bay Lightning used one of their compliance buyout on center Vincent Lecavalier.
“I’m so motivated to go somewhere else and prove I can play at a high level,” Lecavalier said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. “I believe in myself and what I can bring to a team. I want to win.”
Even with the free agency period a week away Lecavalier said he hasn’t put much thought into where he’d like to play next season, but that the Wings will get some consideration.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” Lecavalier said. “(Detroit’s) actually a team I grew up idolizing. Them and Montreal were my favorite teams. Steve Yzerman was my favorite player.”
Yzerman is the Lightning’s general manager and spent his entire career with the Wings.
“My door’s open to everything, but I haven’t made a list yet,” Lecavalier said. “I’m really open to anything. I haven’t pinpointed anything.”
The Wings seem to be a good fit for both parties since they could be in need of a second-line center if they’re unable to come to terms with unrestricted free agent Valtteri Filppula.
When Filppula was asked if he thought he’d be back with the team when the Wings conducted their locker cleanout he said, “I don’t know. It’s too early to say right now. I just have to wait a little longer and see what happens.
“I haven’t thought about that too much, but obviously it’s a possibility that could happen,” Filppula added. “It’d be tough. It’s been a really great place to be. I’ve been so happy here. We’ll see if we go … if that’s what’s going to happen.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland said at the time the Wings made Filppula an offer in August and September before talks broke down.
Filppula made $3 million last season and is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.
Lecavalier’s addition would more than likely allow the Wings to rejoin Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the top line alongside Justin Abdelkader.
“They’re probably one of the best duos in the league,” Lecavalier said of the Wings tandem. “They made the playoffs the last 20 years. It’s a great team, a great organization. It’s definitely a place I would consider.”
Lecavalier could center Johan Franzen and either Gustav Nyquist or another free agent, possibly Damien Brunner if he re-signs with Detroit.
“As a hockey player you want to win,” Lecavalier said. “I want to be happy.”
Lecavalier, 33, spent his entire 15-year career with Tampa Bay, scoring 383 goals and 874 points in 1,037 regular season games and helped lead the Lightning to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory in 2004.
Lecavalier, who helped lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004, had 10 goals and 22 assists in 39 games last season.
The Lightning bought out the final 11 years of his $85 million contract, paying him two-thirds of the remaining value on the deal. That frees up $7.727 million in salary-cap space for Tampa Bay.
“It is,” Lecavalier said when asked if it’s going to be odd playing for another team next season. “(Playing for Tampa Bay) is all I’ve known. The thought of wearing a different jersey is weird in my head. It’s a challenge. I’m very motivated.
“I will work very hard to be in top shape, get to training camp and work with different players in a different environment,” Lecavalier continued. “It is weird to know I’m going to be playing somewhere else. The different environment is something I’m going to have to adapt to. I have to move on.”