The latest on Roberto Luongo, Thomas Vanek, Mark Streit, and Damien Brunner.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Despite Roberto Luongo’s hefty salary, Tony Gallagher listedthe Flyers, Panthers, Oilers, Capitals, Sabres, Blues, Lightning, Flames and Wild as clubs with goalie issues who could have interest in the Canucks veteran.
NEWSDAY’s Arthur Staple doubts the NY Islanders would have interest in Luongo, citing his age (34) and “killer contract”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers biggest issue is landing a skilled top-two defenseman. They’ve acquired Steve Mason and could retain Ilya Bryzgalov for one more season, but even if they part ways with Bryzgalov, I believe they would look at cheaper options than Luongo, unless the Canucks absorb part of his salary.
The Panthers seem to me the best fit, but again, the Canucks might have to eat some of Luongo’s salary to make it work, as well as lower their asking price.
The Oilers will stick with Devan Dubnyk as their starter and add an experienced backup. The Capitals are sticking with Braden Holtby, and if they were to dump Michal Neuvirth, it would be to re-sign center Mike Ribeiro, not to add an expensive goalie. The Sabres will dump salary between this summer and next in order to rebuild with young, affordable talent. The Blues have three goalies already and must re-sign defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, so Luongo isn’t a fit there. The Bolts are now set in goal with Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback, plus they have only $3.32 million in cap space this summer. The Flames are going cheap, with Karri Ramo, Joey MacDonald, and whoever comes through their system, so no fit there. The Wild have too much money tied up in too few players to spring for Luongo.
So, the best option could be the Panthers, and maybe the Flyers if they dump Bryzgalov and if the Canucks take on half of Luongo’s salary. Another option is a compliance buyout of Luongo, but ownership doesn’t seem willing to do that.
WGR550: Matthew Coller examines the pros and cons of the Buffalo Sabres re-signing Thomas Vanek before he becomes a UFA next summer, and decides they would be better served investing the money in a younger scorer or a better all-round forward, like a two-center comparable to Patrice Bergeron or Anze Kopitar. He feels a one-dimensional player like Vanek is better suited on a Cup contender rather than a rebuilding team like the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out between now and next July if Sabres management shares that opinion.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson and Jonathan Willis noted the availability in this summer’s UFA market of NY Islanders defenseman Mark Streit. While acknowledging his skills would make him a good addition to the Oilers, his age (35) and reported salary demands (a four year deal worth over $5.5 million per season) makes him a risky long-term investment.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers could get him for two years at $5 million per season, it would be worthwhile. Otherwise, pass.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Detroit Red Wings UFA forward Damien Brunner isn’t sure if he’ll be returning with the Wings next season. “It’s hard for me to say,” Brunner said. “We’ll see what’s coming. I’m excited about talking to them about my future.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Brunner’s contract demands are reasonable, I expect he’ll be back with the Wings next season.