All good questions, and really, who knows? Other than Roberto Luongo and a few select others at this point.
On Wednesday night word broke that the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the teams that would be on the list when it was ultimately submitted to the Canucks. Shortly after it was learned that the Tampa Bay Lightning would also be a part of the select group whenever “the list” was penned (or typed). Then came news from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos that Luongo asked for a trade during his exit meeting. Now we hear Chicago is in the mix and there are certain to be more coming. All the while Canucks GM Mike Gillis refutes the notion that there is a list.
What do we make of it all?
Well, for starters, I don’t think Gillis is lying. I don’t think Roberto Luongo has a sheet of loose-leaf paper on which he is scribbling the names of NHL teams. But let’s not kid ourselves. The next time Luongo and Gillis meet there will be a discussion of where Luongo is willing to play next season. He still holds the hammer with his no trade clause so there will likely be only about a handful of teams on “the list”.
And what about this business of him asking for a trade? In the grand scheme of things does it even make a difference? The Canucks went with Cory Schneider for the final three games of their season, which is a pretty good indication that they feel he is their guy now. Making that decision pretty much forced Luongo’s hand. So whether the Canucks ask him to move his no trade clause (which Gillis says he’ll never do to a player) or Luongo asks to be traded is all semantics at this point.
Luongo is a proud man, a competitor and by no means does he want to wear a ball cap at the age of 33. He wants to play. And if he’s not going to be given the chance to play regularly in Vancouver, then of course he’s going to want to play somewhere else.
And there will be suitors, plenty of suitors and for good reason. Luongo has averaged 37 wins a season for the last seven years. He’s racked up 32 post-season wins for the Canucks as well. He is far and away the best goaltender in franchise history. Luongo’s only problem in Vancouver at this point is that there is a younger, cheaper version of himself waiting in the wings. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if Cory Schneider was any other back up in the league (although Tim Thomas may face the same situation with Tuukka Rask fairly soon).
It’s very rare that a goaltender of Luongo’s stature is available. In fact the last time someone of Luongo’s pedigree was traded was when the Canucks acquired Luongo from the Florida Panthers. That’s why I don’t believe that the Canucks are going to have to take back a “bad” contract from the team they deal Luongo to.
If there is only one team making a bid then I can see the argument. But if three or four teams are interested the Canucks are not going to have to take back any useless salary. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s say for arguments sake the Canucks had to take a guy making $4 million per that couldn’t really help the team. They’d be worse off than they are now! Combined Schneider and Luongo’s cap hit this past season was $6.2 million. Schneider is due for a raise, so let’s plug him in at 3-years, $9 million. Add on another $4 million from a bad contract and the Canucks cap situation is none the better. I know that’s rather simplistic because of term and such but you get the idea.
If Roberto Luongo is on the market soon, and most believe that to be the case, I think that there will be interest despite the 10-years left on his deal. He’s 33 not 38. He’s still got plenty of elite goaltending left in that tall lanky frame and you can bet that more than a few GM’s out there know that’s the case. And let’s face it; Luongo would probably be an upgrade in goal for 25 teams in the NHL.