January 12, 2008 :: 7:53pm ET
Real-Time Journal:

Lightning, Habs have Lecavalier trade on table
By David Pagnotta

[Toronto, ON] -- As the reports continue to mount over the possible trade of Vincent Lecavalier, it's become almost certain that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens have a deal on the table.

Vincent LecavalierWe found out over the weekend that the two teams were talking, but frankly, I didn't think much of it. Why? Because I was told by someone in Tampa that Vinny wasn't going to be moved.

That appears to have changed.

TSN reported earlier today that the Habs and Lightning are indeed talking, and that offers have been pitched.

According to TSN, there is a huge debate within the Lightning organization regarding the possibility of dealing their captain. Some people want to keep him, others -- like GM Brian Lawton -- want to deal him and rebuild.

I've spoken to sources in both Montreal and Tampa late this afternoon and both have confirmed that a offer is on the table, and has the Habs dealing center Tomas Plekanec, winger Chris Higgins, defensive prospect P.K. Subban and draft picks.

TSN is reporting something similar, but has defenseman Josh Gorges also in the mix.

Ultimately, TSN claims, it's going to be Lecavalier's decision.

I spoke with Vinny a number of times over the years, in Tampa and on the road. Not once did he ever hint that he didn't like playing for the Lightning or in that market. In fact, he loves it. He has some privacy (A LOT more than he'd get in Montreal), the weather is beautiful and he signed a big fat 11-year contract thinking that he'd spend the rest of his career there.

But, that appears to have changed, too.

TSN's Bob McKenzie explained that Lecavalier hasn't enjoyed anything about this season. The Lightning has been a mess all year, with new ownership, new players not working out and a new coach that got the boot soon after the season started.

Vincent LecavalierIf Lecavalier wants to be a member of the Canadiens, it looks like he can.

There may be other options, though, as RDS is reporting that four other teams have also had discussions with the Lightning about Lecavalier, including another Canadian franchise.

For now, however, it looks like the Habs might have the inside track, but Montreal GM Bob Gainey isn't talking (to us media folk).

"Well, we don't really talk about trade rumors," Gainey said earlier today.

"There's a price for everything. If we had a chance at an impact player, then we would evaluate the cost."

And that evaluation looks to have concluded with the Habs deciding that they want him and are willing to give up one heck of a package in return.

The Lightning, meanwhile, refuse to comment on any rumors or potential trades.

Attempts to reach Lawton were unsuccessful, while Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, is currently in Los Angeles to meet with management and wasn't available to talk.

Hughes said over the weekend that he was assured by owner Oren Koules that the team was not going to trade him. I bet he didn't expect things to turn around so quickly in a 48-hour period.

Speaking to a Lightning official around 7:20pm ET, Lecavalier will be playing tonight against the Kings. I think we'd all be curious to see how he performs. Will this be his last game as a Bolt?

Whatever happens, happens. If Lecavalier's dealt, the Habs get a hold of the superstar center they've lacked for years, while the Lightning get key pieces to help them rebuild. If he stays, the team will have plenty of explaining to do.

But if Lecavalier's gone, will Martin St. Louis soon follow?

Could St. Louis perform as well alongside someone like Plekanec? What about Vinny Prospal? Maybe the Bolts opt to deal St. Louis to Pittsburgh for Jordan Staal?

Something tells me this isn't going to end tonight.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a contributing writer for NBCSports.com and MSNBC. His journals appear throughout the entire season exclusively on TFP.

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