This is the fourth installment of Roberto Luongo Trade Rumour Bonanza! The first three editions looked at the possibility of Luongo going to Toronto, Edmonton and Florida. Today, we look at the chances of Luongo going to the arch rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago is a potential destination for Luongo first and foremost because they could use a goalie. Corey Crawford had an impressive first season as the team’s number one goalie in 2010-11, but he failed miserably last year. His GAA ballooned to 2.72 and his SV% was an unimpressive .903. Chicago is also a place that Roberto Luongo would probably love to play. It would generate big headlines and Luongo would get to be a big fish in a big pond. Contrary to some popular belief, I think Luongo craves the spotlight, even if he doesn’t always excel under it.
Another reason why the Blackhawks might be a trading partner for the Canucks is because after two straight first round exits, they’ll want to shake things up, and have some nice pieces that will likely to be made available. Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson are two intriguing names in my mind, and probably available for the right price. The question for Chicago is, is Luongo the right price?
There won’t be a Luongo trade with the Blackhawks if the Blackhawks still believe in Corey Crawford. Crawford is younger and cheaper than Luongo, and if they believe the difference between the two goalies is small, they won’t want to give up a lot for Luongo. Another stumbling block in the way of a trade is the fact that Chicago is a chief rival of the Canucks. Trading Luongo there could potentially blow up in Mike Gillis’ face, if they lost to Chicago in a playoff matchup.
Most NHL general managers are loathed to trade with their rivals, especially ones they are likely to face in the playoffs. This will lead many to believe that you can rule out the Blackhawks, but I don’t think Mike Gillis has this luxury. If Chicago can put together the best package, the Canucks need to take it. A package of Hjalmarsson and Bolland would be more than enough in my mind, but even a straight one-for-one deal for Dave Bolland would do it for me. Bolland is only 26 years old and perhaps the best third line centre in the NHL. Bolland has two years left on a deal that pays him $3.375 million, a palatable contract. He brings everything the Canucks need: youth, experience, grit, and swagger. He would undoubtedly make the Canucks harder to play against and better in the playoffs. Even though Bolland is probably only a 20 goal scorer, the intangibles are enough for me to pull the trigger on this deal.