|Posted by Brendan Munro on May 1, 2012 at 2:45 AM|
Let's armchair GM this summer's upcoming blockbuster trade between Vancouver and Toronto, shall we?
For all the success Luongo has had in Vancouver, I'm going to suggest his days here are done. He was given a chance to close out the deal and win a cup last spring. It didn't happen. This year, when his coach wanted to give his team the best possible chance to win against the LA Kings, he turned away from Luongo and played Cory Schneider.For his part, Luongo has taken the high road, saying that whether the Canucks choose to keep or trade him, he will be fine either way. The general consensus, however, is that Schneider is ready for prime-time and has earned the confidence of his coaches and teammates, which means that Luongo is expendable.
Whether or not he is moveable, however, is a different question. There are only so many teams who are able to absorb the balance of a 12 year, $64 Million contract. The short list of teams in need of a goalie who could possibly shoulder Luongo's contract include Tampa Bay, Columbus, and Toronto (also possibly New Jersey if Brodeur decided to call it quits after this season).
While Luongo has earned his share of detractors for his playoff performances in recent years, his numbers in the regular season are incredibly solid. His goals against average each year since coming to Vancouver has remained in the 2.30 to 2.60 range, while his save percentage has ranged between .913 and .928. Even more impressive has been his wins during the regular season. While it can be argued that this is largely a team statistic, bad teams simply don't have goalies that produce 30 win seasons year after year. In other words, Luongo knows how to get it done in the regular season, which is why he might be a perfect fit for Toronto.While I am hardly the first person to suggest this (the Toronto media nearly made a mess in their pants last week when the rumour leaked that Luongo would waive his not trade clause to join Leafs nation), I am going to analytically agree that acquiring him would make a lot of sense for the Leafs. The one thing that hasn't yet donned on the Leafs though is that it might actually cost the team something valuable to get him.
The typical fan/GM in Toronto would happily exchange picks and prospects for Luongo, and considering the albatross that is represented by his contract, that logic is understandable. However, the Canucks are in win-now mode and have little appetite for long-term development projects. If Luongo moves, which is likely, but far from certain, it will be in exchange for players that can help the Canucks win now. I'm sure that if Mike Gillis had his way, any trade talk would start with Jake Gardiner and a pick, or at minimum Mikhael Grabovski and the 5th overall pick, though Grabovski brings the kind skill-set that Vancouver already has in droves, so that move doesn't make sense. If both Luongo and Gardiner are wearing Leafs jerseys this fall, expect – at minimum – Joe Colborne and that 5th overall pick heading to Vancouver.
I know what you're thinking: that seems like a lot for a guy with Luongo's massive contract, but remember that Gillis knows that Brian Burke has get this team in the playoffs this year. There is no horizon beyond that if the Leafs fall short once again, so essentially the term on Luongo's deal really doesn't matter as much as it would to someone who expected to be at the helm for the long-haul.Will Brian Burke have the guts to pull the trigger on this deal and once again reshape the image of his franchise like he did in the Phil Kessel trade? We'll see.
What do you think? Is Luongo for Colborne and the 5th overall a fair deal for both teams? How about Luongo for Gardiner? Is there another deal to be made that both GM's could stomach? I'm happy to hear your suggestions.