The Odd Man Out
John Romano chimes in on who is going to be left standing (out of Lecavalier, St. Louis or Khabibulin) when the music stops playing in Tampa:
Which brings us to St. Louis, who is 30 and at the peak of his career. He may have another terrific season in 2005-06. Maybe the next season, too. But, eventually, his size will become a liability. He will always be tenacious, he will always be dedicated, but he's not always going to be quick enough.Romano asks us to look at things logically with the three men in question - but only admits to the bleak possibilities (above) with St. Louis.
The fact that Khabibulin has had only one positive playoff year his entire career (last year) is a liability, as is Khabibulin's lack of focus at times that makes him a liability in net.
Lecavalier may be the It-Boy that is all of 25, but this is an It-boy who has embraced prima-donna status before the age of 24 -- holding out for more money, pouting when having his captaincy removed, requesting a trade instead of working out his problems (and improving his game) with coach Tortorella. This also isn't to say that Lecavalier hasn't struggled for the majoriy of his career until recent. He's had two solid seasons but has been deemed the franchise since he was putting up so-so numbers in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
That's not saying I want to see Nik leave or Vinny go, but the new NHL demands a roster of players that realize "There is no I in Team". Of these three that Romano ponders about - only Martin St. Louis had been willing to discuss a long term contract at a less-than-going rate for an MVP caliber forward (rumored).
The odd man out is likely Khabibulin unless he continues his waiting game -- because the money will run out elsewhere and that will leave only a re-signing in Tampa. Lecavalier could be the odd man out simply because he choses to be - he's discussed taking only a 1 year contract. The odd man out is the Lightning, because the wild game of "Hired Assasin" around the NHL is going to effect re-signing their players under the cap.