Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by the Lightning on Thursday after more than 15 years with the team. (Travis Golby/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Thursday a "pivotal move" to buy out the contract of center Vincent Lecavalier, who has seven years and $45 million left on his deal with the team.
The former first overall selection by the Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft will become a free agent on July 5 and will receive two-thirds of the $45 million left on his contract over twice the term of the deal. But he will no longer count against Tampa Bay's salary cap.
Vice President and General Manager of the team, Steve Yzerman, thanked LeCavalier for his time with the team, including his cup-clinching goal in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, but said the terms of the new CBA led the front office to make the decision:
"After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long-term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out. The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us."
The 33-year-old leaves Tampa Bay having played 1,037 games, most in franchise history.