Simon Gagne and Vincent Lecavalier have provided their fair share of frustration to fantasy owners. Is Lecavalier merely a 70-point player now? Is Gagne washed up? Short-sighted fantasy managers will say yes on both accounts and only shop for TB players with the last name St. Louis or Stamkos, but if you can get them cheap, you might want to take a consider Gagne and Lecavalier.
It's no surprise that these two met and became friends during their QMJHL years in the mid to late 90s. They've also done a bit of training together in off seasons and kept in touch over the years. This past summer when Philadelphia approached Gagne about waiving his NTC, Gagne did not want to leave Philly, but quickly realized it was happening one way or another. When you look at what the Flyers received (Matt Walker and a fourth round pick), the instantaneous reaction was, "Seriously? That's all?"? There was a reason why Philadelphia didn't have much bargaining power though. Despite constant rumors of Gagne being traded to the LA Kings, Simon Gagne had told Paul Holmgren that he would be willing to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning alone. Gagne's reasons were (1) TB's cap space wasn't at the ceiling like Philadelphia's, so he pictured the Bolts as a home rather than a rental living situation and (2) he wanted to play with his buddy Vincent Lecavalier. They had skated together in All Star games, Olympics, and other International tournaments, but never shared the same locker room for more than a few weeks at most. After a few weeks, the deal was done.
Now with a story like that, just about everyone on the planet expected these two to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and padding their stats. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and people began to give up. Right now is the perfect time to buy low as most fantasy GMs look at Stamkos and St. Louis' production and begin writing off the Lecavalier-Gagne tandem. In all likelihood though, these two will be putting points on the board right around mid-to-late February all the way through early April, just in time to help your playoff push.
Some players like Dany Heatley can move from team to team with no adjustment needed. They show up and produce like nothing happened. Others, especially ones who have had an injury plagued past, need that time to adjust to a new system and a new way of life. Daniel Briere quickly fell out of favor in Philadelphia and many wanted him and his "albatross"? contract out of town. After adjusting to Philadelphia and getting healthy, his 30 point performance in the 2010 playoffs set an NHL record. Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, and Jeff Carter had fans and fantasy owners writing Briere off. Now Gagne isn't Daniel Briere, but in 2009, what was Briere's value? It's important to realize when the buy low moment is happening and investing rather than writing a player off like the rest of the world.
Vincent Lecavalier has gone through his own injuries and issues and has seen his value consistently decline since posting 200 points from 2006-2008. He managed 70 points last season, but his number one center role has been transitioned to the new number one overall player on the team, Steven Stamkos. Vinny no longer has St. Louis on his wing which is a pretty big adjustment for him. He's not likely to score 90-plus points again, but he shouldn't be too bad of a 70-point center with upside. As soon as he and Gagne get their chemistry down, these two will be putting points on the board at will.
Both players are more than capable NHLers who can put together point-per-game runs for a few weeks to possibly even a couple months. Gagne showed last year in the playoffs that he has a drive to win and will work extremely hard to get there. After suffering a broken foot in the New Jersey series, doctors told Gagne he would be out the remainder of the playoffs, even if the Flyers were to make it to the Stanely Cup Finals. Yet Gagne opted for a surgery that put screws in his foot and he returned four weeks earlier than expected. He scored nine goals on the stretch, two of which were game winners, and he was an integral part of the Flyers run to the Finals. It was Simon Gagne who tallied the final goal of the historic Philadelphia-Boston series. On the other hand, Lecavalier is a player who had been the go-to-center in Tampa Bay for years and now had to step aside as Steven Stamkos took over. There were rumors of Lecavalier being shopped to Montreal and talk of his shoulder injuries being too much to overcome, but Lecavalier still reached the 70-point mark in 2009-10, a feat that only 30 players in the league were able to do. Both have been written off, but neither are going down without a fight. Each player has had their own set of adversity or challenges, but the two 1998 first rounders still have a lot of hockey in them and they want to prove it.
Lecavalier is better than Gagne, but in most fantasy formats, left wing is harder to fill than center. Gagne is not an 80 point player, but should be a 30-30-60 player who can get at or above 70 with a full season on Vinny's wing. Vinny is probably a 25-45-70 player who could flirt with 80 if Gagne buries his chances. Most recently, Gagne has five goals in his last seven games, and Lecavalier assisted on three of those. Vinny has six points in his last eight games. They're not at the point where they're going to produce at a point per game pace yet, but they are starting to get acclimated to each other on the ice and it's only a matter of time before they find the third part of the line and begin to click. At only 30 years of age, each of these two players has a lot of hockey left in them, but their value is likely at the lowest point it will be before they are truly washed up.
If you're an owner, hold on.
If you're not an owner, buy low, and if you can't buy low, stay away. Now's definitely not the time to pay full market value.
Check out my section at Dub's Take for articles on Mike Santorelli, Justin Schultz, Andreas Nodl, & Stefan Elliott, as well as in-depth game audits, with the most recent one on the WJC Championship game between Russia and Canada!