Vaclav Prospal is Gone, But His Cap Hit will Live on

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12:  Vaclav Prospal #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on against the Los Angeles Kings on January 12, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Following a season in which he tied for the fourth-worst plus/minus rating in the NHL (-20), 34-year-old Vaclav Prospal cut ties with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Whether that poor rating was the result of a drop in his play or just the result of playing on a bad team, Prospal won't be given a chance to prove otherwise with the Bolts. He was due to make $3.5 million during each of the next three seasons as part of a four-year deal he signed with the club last summer, but team officials deemed him expendable.

"After fully evaluating our roster and our position in the salary cap world, we arrived at the decision to buy out Vaclav Prospal from his contract," said general manager Brian Lawton. "We appreciate Vinny's service to the Lightning, but in the best interest of the team, we believe a difficult decision needed to be made in this case and we are going to move ahead without him. We wish Vinny all the best."

Prospal has spent parts of six seasons with the Lightning during his career, and his 314 points put him in fourth place in team history. He finished last season as one of only two players—Martin St. Louis the other—to play in all 82 games. Prospal totaled 19 goals and 45 points in those games

Even though Vinny will no longer be part of the team, his cap hit on Tampa Bay will live on for the next six seasons. As per the labor agreement, Tampa is still on the hook for two-thirds of his remaining deal, which amounts to a little over $7 million.

That amount can be pro-rated for twice the three remaining years of the contract, meaning a cap hit of $1.17 for six years; quite a hefty price to pay in order to part ways with the Czech native.

His former team captain was not too happy with the move.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed," Vincent Lecavalier told "I feel for him. I know he really loves Tampa, so I was disappointed. A lot of it is the business. He's a great guy and works harder than anybody else on the ice. He has a passion for the game. He's a great friend, and it's always tough to see one of your friends leave. He made me a better player." 

Since Brian Lawton has been in charge of personnel moves, the Lightning continue their seemingly endless roster turnover.  This off-season has seen a number of transactions, including the signing of Mattias Ohlund to a huge seven-year deal, one goaltender leaving for the KHL, the acquisition of another, the trade of a another player signed during last summer's parade of moves, plus a number of other moves.

Perhaps these moves mean the Lightning are finally close to finding their identity, but in reality they are most likely the precursor to more transactions and instability.