Now that the Canucks have been eliminated from the playoffs **chuckles**, the talk is that Vancouver needs to blow it up, start over, the window is closed, etc. That’s a bit ridiculous, considering the age of their very good starting goalie, Corey Schneider, and their twin leaders, the Sedins. Perhaps the coach could go, as a way of shaking things up, and certainly some minor tweaks to the line-up are likely, but a full-blow up is not necessary. This is still a very good team, with lots of assets, depth and talent.
One guy who embodies all three of those descriptors is Roberto Luongo. Considering how good Schnieder is, and the play of Eddie Lack with the Wolves, it would not be a bad idea for the Nucks to trade their former captain, to try to shore up some other areas. And of course, if someone is talking trade, the Leafs must be involved. But, is this realistic?
A Leafs trade for Luongo would have to be premised on a few assumptions. The first is that the Canucks want to trade him. If they do, what do they consider his value to be? It’s unfair that he gets tagged as being the problem for their playoff collapses. Chris Boyle mentions this in a post about "clutch" goalies. The problem for the Canucks is goal scoring, not goal tending. So assume they know this, and they see Luongo for what he is: a top flight NHL goalie. That will affect their asking price.
Last time Luongo was traded, he, along with Lucas Krajieck and a 6th round pick, made their way from Florida in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld. So the return was problem star, back-up goalie and journeyman defensive d-man. Low draft-pick and other journeyman d-man went with him. Considering his rise in stature since then, you’d have to think the price will be a little higher. Mitch Smith looked at goalie trades last week, and there is a pattern: Either another goalie goes the other way, or there are draft picks involved, but generally he feels that older goalies are under-valued. Certainly the first couple times Luongo was traded could be looked at as steals.
So if we upgrade the price a bit from the last trade, taking into account the Canucks needs (scoring, offensive defenceman), you have to ask, do the Leafs have enough to offer? I’m pretty sure that any team looking to trade a significant piece with the Leafs asks for Gardiner. Why wouldn’t you? And although he’s not likely to turn out to be as good as most Leaf fans would hope, Kadri seems like a player that could up-grade the Canucks third-line scoring, and be able to run in the top-six in a pinch. One thing the Leafs do have is a lot of goalie prospects, though with Lack and Climie, the Chicago Wolves aren’t doing to badly either. Ideally for the Leafs, Ben Scrivens stays, and Vancouver would have a pick of Owuya or Rynnas.
Then you have to consider the contract. Luongo has a cap hit of $5.33 million over the next ten years. The deal is front-loaded, one of those deals Burke claims to have a moral opposition to. There is a NTC in the contract, but it’s not clear to me if it kicks in before the end of 2013-14. Here is what the clause says: "player can supply five-team trade list following final game of 2013-14, valid through July 15, 2014." I’m not sure if that date refers to the list, or to the NTC.
So for the Leafs to make a hypothetical trade for Luongo, the player may have to waive a NTC to come to Toronto. According to Corey Schnieder, Luongo is a confident and secure guy who can handle pressure. Maybe he wants to come to the center of the hockey universe and face more scrutiny than he ever has before. Maybe he will thrive on it. Hard to know. But it seems like, if he is to be traded here, it will be his call.
With the contract as it is, will Burke even trade for him? I can see Burke easily talking his way out of making such a trade: "Well I said I would never sign a player to a contract like that, but I never said I wouldn’t trade for one." So yeah, it could happen. With Burke, anything is possible.
Back to the return, if the Leafs take on that kind of cap hit, there would have to be something going back the other way. I guess Leaf fans would love for it to be Mike Komisarek ($4.5 million hit), but you know what? He’s got an NTC, too. I don’t know why he wouldn’t want to live in Vancouver, though. I mean, seems like they don’t riot anymore there, so that’s good.
In all seriousness, who knows the whims of hockey players. But what remains is that for this "deal" to get done, two players would probably need to approve the deal, Burke would need to go back on his word (ok, that might not be so hard), and the Leafs would have to give up two of our best (only?) top skating prospects, and one of our goalie prospects. All for one of the best goalies in the game. Considering how bad the Leafs goaltending has been, this might not be a bad trade to make for Toronto. But it matters little if the fans want it to happen.
Somewhat serious media speculation doesn’t even bother to list the Leafs as a possible destination. Where the Leafs do pop-up a lot is in a list of most ridiculous Luongo proposals. Ouch. So, before you get all excited about Luongo to the Leafs, think about what putting together a deal like this would actually require. Sorry Leafs fans, it’s not happening.