Remember when Roberto Luongo to the Toronto Maple Leafs was the done-deal/sure-thing/set-in-stone post-lockout happening? To the point where a Toronto sporting goods store goofed around with a Luongo Leafs jersey hanging amongst those for Phil Kessell and Dion Phaneuf?
That’s before Luongo seemed comfortable with the idea of playing a truncated season with the Vancouver Canucks – something he could force with his no-movement clause – and before Luongo carried that team through some stretches of the season. That’s also before the Leafs turned into a playoff team with a potential Luongo trade piece – Nazem Kadri – playing himself into untouchable status.
But as the trade deadline approaches, Damien Cox hears that the Leafs and Canucks have “quietly” started talking Strombone again. They might prefer a deal for Miikka Kiprusoff, or stick with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Or …
Luongo, then, might now be the third option, but he has played well this season, has playoff experience and must still be appealing to the Leafs if the right deal is there. The MLSE board has already approved the addition of a long-term contract the size of Luongo’s, which runs until 2022 with an annual $5.33-million cap hit, as well as $40.6-million owed in actual salary.
Few teams can handle that contract, and fewer still will want Luongo this summer with the cap going down. The Leafs might still have to sacrifice Bozak, but could demand that Vancouver pay a chunk of Luongo’s contract for next year and beyond and refuse to surrender other assets.
The new CBA allows for some creative accounting like that, so money might not be the hang-up here.
The real hang-up is the marketplace.
As in the teams that need goalies, which are few, and the goalies that might become available in the next year, which are many. From Jason Botchford of The Province:
Consider the free agents could include Mike Smith, Jimmy Howard, and Niklas Backstrom.
The trade market could include Ryan Miller, Jonathan Bernier, Jaro Halak and either Ben Bishop or Craig Anderson.
The wild cards promise to be Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov, if the Flyers buy him out. That’s some list right there, and it would leave teams in need of a goalie, but it would also give those teams a lot of options.
The way things have gone for GM Mike Gillis with Luongo, and the way things are going for the goalie market, the Canucks’ return for Luongo might make the Flames’ return for Iginla look like the Lindros bounty for Quebec.
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