Unless you have been avoiding all Canucks news for the last month or so, you’ll know that there have been quite a few Roberto Luongo trade rumours floating around. There’s definitely a lot of teams that could use Luongo, but are they willing to give up the assets necessary to acquire him? And just what are the assets required to acquire him? Even if a team passes those two tests, they still need to be willing to take on his contract. And even if a team is willing and able to do that, Luongo still has to waive his no trade clause to go there.
So how much is Luongo worth? That’s very hard to say. He’s still probably one of the top 10 goalies in the league, and his cap hit isn’t bad at $5.3 million per season. The problem with Luongo is that he’s signed until 2021. But just like how after Wayne Gretzky got traded in his prime, every other player was deemed “tradable”, every contract is tradable after the Rangers successfully traded Scott Gomez a few years ago.
The goalie market is a fickle one. Semyon Varlamov fetched a 1st round and 2nd round draft pick last summer, which was a gross overpayment in my view. Just one year before that, Kari Lehtonen was traded for the very reasonable price of Ivan Vishnevskiy. Neither one of those goalies were established star goalies like Roberto Luongo though. Goalies like that don’t get traded very often. The last time an established star goalie was traded was when Nashville traded Tomas Vokoun to Florida for a 1st and two 2nd round picks in 2007.
So do the Vancouver Canucks aim for draft picks? Not likely. They’ll probably want some established assets back in return in order to make a run at the Stanley Cup next year. How good of a player they receive and whether or not they will have to take on a bad contract in return are also big question marks for me.
From now until the time Luongo is traded we will be theorizing different landing spots for him. Today, we start off with the most rumoured landing spot: Toronto.
It has been reported that Toronto is one of the teams that Luongo is willing to waive his no trade clause for, so that’s one hurdle cleared. Dave Nonis (the man who brought Luongo to Vancouver) loves him, and is currently Toronto’s assistant general manager. Brian Burke should be desperate to save his job, and likely will need to make the playoffs this season to ensure that happens. Goaltending was the Leafs biggest problem last season, and acquiring a guy like Luongo would make them a favourite for a playoff spot. They also have some nice pieces that the Canucks might find intriguing.
Brian Burke is stubborn. He also doesn’t have an eye for goaltending. Will he be willing to work with Mike Gillis with all of their history? Will he be willing to take on a long term contract after taking a strong stance against them in the past? Does he still believe in James Reimer? My guess is that he’ll inquire about Luongo, but won’t be willing to give up what it takes.
If a trade between these two teams happens, it’ll likely include one of Toronto’s young defencemen: Luke Schenn, Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson or Jake Gardiner. Cody Franson isn’t likely going to be enough to get the deal done on his own and Burke probably won’t want to give up Gunnarsson or Gardiner. That’s why I think that Luke Schenn is the most likely piece of the puzzle. A couple of years ago, Schenn was untouchable in the Leafs eyes, but things appear to have changed. Since bursting onto the scene as an 18 year old in 2008, his play has slipped. Last year he only averaged 16 minutes of ice time per game and his contract isn’t great (four more years left at $3.6 million per season). I think he could be just the piece to be moved though. He’s only 22 years old and defencemen often take a long time to develop, especially stay-at-home defencemen under a lot of pressure on bad teams. A change of scenery is likely to serve him well, as will playing in front of a strong goalie on a winning franchise.