Roberto’s Swan Song? Wake Me Up Before You Luongo-go

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Written by Habsterix, AllHabs.net

They acquired him from Florida. The season prior to him being eligible to become an unrestricted free agent, they named him team captain. They signed him to a 12-year, $64 million contract. After losing game seven of the Stanley Cup finals a year ago and disappointing exit in the first round this year, the Vancouver Canucks now are facing the possibility of trading Roberto Luongo this off-season.

PENTICTON, BC. – Trying to trade him and being able to do it could prove to be quite challenging, and trying to make it a good hockey deal, even more so. Few teams will be looking for a goaltender this summer although some might have some level of interest in the veteran keeper. Columbus, Edmonton, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Florida and Chicago will likely all be seeking an upgrade in net and if Martin Brodeur chooses to retire, the New Jersey Devils can be added to that list.

Luongo, on the other hand, has a no-trade clause to his lucrative contract and while he recently mentioned that he would be willing to wave it if asked to do so by the Canucks, it doesn’t mean that he would accept to go just anywhere. Some locations where he might accept a trade to might include Tampa Bay and Florida, where his wife resides all year round. One would think that if Lou Lamoriello (New Jersey) or Stan Bowman (Chicago) came knocking, he would likely accept a trade to those locations, although it’s a long shot to think that the Canucks would dare risk trading him to the windy city.

Another important factor is the expected return from Mike Gillis and his team. Would they be looking at dumping him at all cost, even having to sweeten the pot with another player and/or a prospect or pick, in order to make it happen? Would the Canucks be willing to take on some salary in return? And last but not least, what team would be willing to take on the remaining 10 years of the 33 year old goaltender with an annual cap hit of $5.3 million and the $47 million in actual salary that comes with it? While it is likely that he would retire before the end of his contract, who would want to have Luongo dictate how long the team will have that cap hit hanging over their head regardless of performances?

For those teams likely looking to improve at that position, some of the most notable goaltenders scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this summer include Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun, Josh Harding, Dan Ellis and Jonas Gustavsson, all of which would be cheaper than Luongo or at least, without having to be tied with the long term deal.

Other goaltenders might very well be available to teams looking for a goalie. Jonathan Bernier, Thomas Greiss and Jhonas Enroth are young tenders playing behind undisputed veterans and they may want a shot at a starters’ position somewhere. When the Blues traded for Jaroslav Halak with Montreal, they were not expecting Brian Elliott to play as well as he did and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that one of them could be made available at the right price (no pun intended). In Boston, Tim Thomas has been a big distraction since his refusal to attend the White House with his teammates and his no-trade clause expires on July first. And what if the Calgary Flames decided to blow it up and truly rebuilt? There would be some serious interest in Miikka Kiprusoff.

So what makes sense?

First and foremost, please forget the crazy ideas of Luongo being traded to Montreal with the Habs turning around and trading Carey Price for a better return. It makes absolutely no sense.

I personally see a few scenarios:

  1. Tampa Bay: Steve Yzerman was involved with Team Canada at the last Olympics and won the Gold Medal with Luongo in net. The Lightning desperately need some major improvement at that position and on defense. I could see a package including Ryan Malone (assuming he waives his NMC) and something else in return of Luongo and a defenseman like Keith Ballard.
  2. Florida: Going back to where it all started is not out of the question, with new management in place and the team making great strides under Dale Tallon. The return might not be much however as the Panthers don’t have much to offer, but Jose Theodore would make a good duo with young Schneider in Vancouver. A factor working against a deal is Florida’s highly-touted prospect Jacob Markstrom.
  3. Columbus: The big question is to know if Luongo would waive his NTC to play there, but I would not underestimate the potential of seeing a deal between the two teams around Luongo and Rick Nash. Of course, more would have to head to Columbus and Mason Raymond and a defenseman are pretty solid options for the Jackets.
  4. Chicago: Those two teams have been bitter rivals for a few years now but they do make pretty good trade partners when it comes to assets. Corey Crawford could be heading to Vancouver, a good security blanket for the Canucks in case Schneider holds out on a new contract or if he falters a bit with his performances. But would the Canucks want to risk being eliminated by a motivated Luongo?
  5. Edmonton: Yes, this is out of left field and it is unlikely that the two rivals trade with each other. However, I’m not convinced that Devan Dubnyk can lead this team to the playoffs. Khabibulin has a year left to his contract and would be great with Schneider while a guy like Theo Peckham would add some sand paper to the Canucks defense. Having said that, I’d expect the Oilers to look at another option instead.

As we see, there are many factors involved and one would be much smarter than me to claim knowing what will be happening. One thing is for sure however, it should be a very interesting summer for Canucks’ fans in spite of the sorrow of yet, another disappointing exit.

En français: Chanson de Roberto? Wake me up before you Luongo-go

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been thinking Tampa, with New Jersey as a dark horse. The Devils were 3rd in the east (9th overall) for goals against this season, despite Brodeur’s .908 saves percentage. Lamoriello is clearly okay with long term deals (see Kovalchuk, Ilya) and I think Luongo would excel in a place with less media/fan attention on him – plus the few fans that do show up might quickly take to him, considering he is/was the heir to Brodeur as the top Canadian and Quebecois goalie.

    But with Tampa and Columbus I’ve been wondering about two possibilities;
    -Lecavalier for Luongo (with extras to balance)? also has long deal, similar age, also overpaid. But I guess Vancouver doesn’t really need another centre, after Henrik and Kesler? But someone can move to the wing, or they can go with 3 strong centremen similar to LA and Pittsburgh.

    -How about Nash+Mason for Luongo+Kesler (with extras to balance)? The cap hits are very similar and it gives Vancouver a reasonable backup/1B goalie. Columbus gets a real starter and a good top-line centreman. Problem? Nash and Daniel play on the same wing, so either one would switch or Nash would be beside some useless centre – as usual.

    -shrug-, just some thoughts I’ve had.

    • I’m not so sure Kevin that Lecavalier wants to go anywhere. He loves Tampa and I’d be shocked if the Canucks were interested in getting another long term deal in return.

  2. Toronto will also be on Bobby’s list. That could be interesting. I wouldn’t count him out of Vancouver just yet though…

    Also, thanks so much, that song is stuck in my head now. ~~ Wake me up, before you go-go, and take me dancing tonight ~~

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