No matter what Luongo’s true desire is, there is a legitimate chance he is traded this offseason due to the emergence of Cory Schneider. What would be the top destination for the oft-scrutinized Luongo? Alexander and I debate…
Toronto Maple Leafs
By Alexander Monaghan
Roberto Luongo is on the trading block – that much we know.
For the following three seasons Luongo, more than anyone on his team, has been blamed for the Canucks losses. Can he move on to a new team and get a much-needed fresh start?
The market for a starting goalie is somewhat limited at the moment. There really are only four teams without a decent backstop entering next season – Toronto, Tampa Bay, Columbus, and if Martin Brodeur retires, New Jersey.
At this point it doesn’t look like Tampa Bay is in the running, or at least Bolts GM Steve Yzerman is playing extreme hardball. By that same token, the Blue Jackets haven’t necessarily shown interest in either Luongo or incumbent starter Cory Schneider.
Therefore, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke should be kicking the tires on ‘Bobby Lu’ due to the dearth of goalies at every stage of the organization’s system.
While there remains some animosity between Burke and the Canucks, making a deal appears to be a slam dunk. The Leafs have a decent amount of cap space following the 2012-13 season and could easily solidify their netminding with one simple move.
A swap of Luongo for the expiring contracts of Colby Armstrong and Tim Connolly would give them enough space to accommodate such a hefty contract. Furthermore, their real-life budget would allow for a buy out or possible contract burial such as that of Wade Redden. It is only money after all.
At this point in the offseason, a Luongo trade doesn’t seem necessarily imminent. However, the 33-year-old still has enough in the tank to help out a team in win-now mode. Burke and the Leafs refused to trade players for draft picks as they insist they aren’t rebuilding. What better way to prove that to your fans than to nab one of the better goalies available?
Last season, Luongo was above league average in every counting stat across the board. Had he played for the Leafs, their 29th-ranked goals against would surely improve.
Does Burke have the guts to make such a risky move? If he can muster up the strength to pull the trigger it should be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Tampa Bay Lightning
By Ryan Porth
Despite GM Steve Yzerman’s comments this week, Tampa Bay is still the best fit for Luongo among teams needing a goalie. Yzerman could be speaking what he truly believes, or he could be bluffing. Let’s face it: the Lightning need a goalie and Luongo is the best one available this offseason.
Though Luongo is 33 and no longer entering his prime, he can still play at a top-notch level and would surely benefit from a change of scenery. Just last season he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy and came within one win of a Stanley Cup. There is still a lot of gas left in the tank, although it may not last for the duration of his contract (through 2022).
Does it make sense for the Lightning to acquire Luongo? Why not?
Vancouver won’t be asking for a king’s ransom for Luongo; if they do, Luongo will be the NHL’s most expensive backup next season. It could even be an opportunity for the Lightning to get out from under Ryan Malone’s bad contract ($4.5 million cap hit through 2015), something Yzerman probably won’t be able to do elsewhere.
The Lightning could surrender Malone and a conditional pick for Luongo’s services and instantly become the team to beat in the Southeast Division. This was a team that perhaps overachieved in 2010-11, but underachieved this past season and is ready to return to the playoffs in 2013.
Ideally, the Lightning would like to get a goaltender that isn’t 33 years old and under contract for another decade. They could go out and deal for a young netminder like Los Angeles’ Jonathan Bernier or Nashville’s Anders Lindback. That’s what Yzerman would prefer.
But he shouldn’t exclude Luongo from his want list. Luongo could provide five good years of play and help lift the Lightning to multiple playoff appearances. And if the new CBA allows, the Lightning could exercise an amnesty clause and be done with Luongo and not worry about being on the hook through 2022.
For Luongo, Tampa Bay would be the best fit, too. He needs to get out of Vancouver. He can’t win there. Even if he wins a Stanley Cup, Canucks fans wouldn’t give him credit. Not to mention, his wife is from Florida and playing in a market like Tampa Bay would be perfect for the still-talented goaltender.
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