BY SHANE O’FARRELL – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
Until either Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo are traded by the Vancouver Canucks, rumours will continue to swirl that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis will make a play for Luongo. Here are my five reasons why the Leafs should stay away from Roberto Luongo.
1. The Leafs are more than a Roberto Luongo away from making the playoffs.
I know it may seem hard for Leafs fans to believe, with Toronto sporting a WINNING record (6-5-0), but this team has some glaring deficiencies that will prevent them from being a playoff squad this year. The facet of their game that has plagued them for the past half-decade, their special teams, is still a huge Achilles heel for the Buds.
Their power-play is ranked a dismal 25th in the league and their penalty-kill is not much better, ranked 24th. While Luongo may help increase their success on the PK, he can’t help them score on the PP, something that playoff teams do at a consistent pace. Then, take into consideration that they have guys like Mike Kostka and Korbinian Holzer playing significant minutes on a nightly basis and it becomes safe to say that this team is more than a top-10 goaltender away from the promise land.
2. Toronto doesn’t need Luongo’s contract on their books.
Including this season, Luongo has 10 years left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.3 million a season. Yes, the Leafs would technically be able to afford that albatross of a deal and stay under the cap’s ceiling, but at what cost?
3. James Reimer is proving he wants the starting job.
Everyone had their doubts about Reimer entering the season as the Leafs starting tender because of his struggles bouncing back from that Brian Gionta hit to the head last season. But, in the early going, JR has been more than decent posting, a 2.61 GAA and a .918 save percentage in seven starts. If he can keep up his solid play, which is not at all out of the realm of possibility, then trading for Luongo would make no sense. Especially if you consider the rumoured asking price is Bozak, Kadri and a high draft pick; which would thin-out an already shallow Leafs’ offence.
4. Luongo’s age.
Luongo turns 34 in April, and his aforementioned contract takes him through the age of 43. Yes, he has started the 2012-2013 campaign on a tear, but do Leafs fans really want a goaltender under contract into his mid-40s, at a time when he probably won’t be playing anymore? And Toronto fans know all too well about paying a guy who doesn’t play for them anymore (see: Darcy Tucker and his six-year buyout that doesn’t expire until next season).
5. The Leafs can’t afford to botch ANOTHER rebuild.
With the envy of the league (the Ottawa Senators and their masterful rebuild) playing in the same division as the Buds, it’s evident that the team with the longest playoff drought in the NHL can’t afford to sell their farm system away for an instant-fix. When you look at the young guns like Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Matt Frattin and their impressive starts, it becomes pretty clear that Toronto is finally starting to compile some valuable assets for the long-term. But the key-words there are ‘long-term’. Those players won’t help them win a Cup this year, but could do so a few years down the road. The team that eventually pulls the trigger on a Luongo trade must be a lot closer to winning now than the Leafs are.
More NHL: Has Luongo’s great play killed trade talk?