AP File Photo
Former Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier looks toward the action during a game last season.
BOSTON — The Boston Bruins, hit with the news they will likely be losing right wing Nathan Horton to free agency, are one of many teams interested in signing free-agent forward Vincent Lecavalier.
The team met with the center Saturday in New Jersey. Recently released by the Tampa bay Lightning via a compliance lockout, Lecavalier is clearly a hot commodity on the open market and moved onto the Bruins’ radar after Boston, the runner-up in the Stanley Cup final, was told by Horton’s agent that he will test the market.
“With what happened with Nathan, it became a little more ripe,” general manager Peter Chiarelli told the media in Newark. “We had a good meeting.”
With forwards David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron already centering the top two lines, the Bruins would likely move Lecavalier to a wing. Chiarelli said Lecavalier is willing to make the move.
While the Bruins are in the mix, Lecavalier is a Montreal native and also grew up as a fan of the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canadiens talked about trading for him in 2009.
“Montreal is a special place with a lot of history and it can offer a lot,” Lecavalier said after the buyout was announced. “They have a good team, they proved it last year, so I’m open to Montreal. But I’m not closing the door on anyone.
“The door is open for everyone and after that we’ll see.”
The Philadelphia Flyers, with some cap space after two buyouts of their own last week, also have an interest in Lecavalier. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren met with Lecavalier over the weekend, as well.
Lecavalier, 33, is likely seeking a five-year deal, on top of the $30-plus million he will receive from the Lightning for the buyout. With 32 points in 39 games this season, he has 383 goals and 874 points in his 14-year career, and led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup.
Chiarelli said he was “surprised” at Horton’s position, and left the door open for a change of heart on Horton’s part. He also said he has been receiving calls regarding forward Tyler Seguin, who is slated to make $5.75 million next year. Losing Horton could mean not trading Seguin, but the signing of Lecavalier could change that.
Seguin struggled in the postseason, scoring just one goal, as Boston won the Eastern Conference for the second time in three years.
On Sunday night, Chiarelli, talking about Seguin, said, “he’s got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand. He’s got to become more of a professional. You know what? I can say that about a lot of 21-year-olds. I know he got criticized for playing on the periphery and all that stuff. He did. He’s got to commit to being a professional and focusing on the game. Simple as that. He does that, we don’t expect him to be crashing and banging.
“Just play your game.”
The Bruins, who have shown a commitment to lock up marquee players long term in the Chiarelli era, appear close on a six-year contract extension with Bergeron.
Boston, which didn’t have a first-round pick in the draft, selected Swedish defenseman Linus Arnesson with the 60th choice.
Arnesson, 18 and listed at 6 foot, 2 inches, 190 pounds, played for Djurgarden in Stockholm and was projected as a third- or fourth-round pick by experts. As it turned out, he went one pick from the end of the second round.
“Versatile defenseman, good skater,” Chiarelli said, “not necessarily a banger but a solid, two-way defenseman.”
The Bruins surrendered their first-round pick to Dallas in the conditional deal for Jaromir Jagr that went from a second- to a first-rounder because Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals.
In the third round, the Bruins tabbed left wing Peter Cehlarik, a Slovakian playing in Sweden. In Round 4, Boston tabbed local talent Ryan Fitzgerald, a center who played with the Valley Junior Warriors in the Boston area last year and is headed for Boston College. He is the son of former Bruins and current Pittsburgh assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald and the nephew of Bruins’ director of amateur scouting Scott Fitzgerald.
In the fifth round, the Bruins took 6-6 Harvard defenseman Wiley Sherman, from Greenwich, Conn. In Round 6, Boston tabbed winger Anton Blidh, from Sweden. Then, with the next-to-last pick in the draft, the Bruins took left wing Mitchell Dempsey from Cambridge, Ontario.MORE IN Sports Wire
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