Not even an NHL lockout can kill off the rumors of Robert Luongo being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Read on for the latest.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks GM Mike Gillis recently denied a report by Sportsnet’s John Shannon claiming Gillis could be close to moving goalie Roberto Luongo to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“The definition of ‘close’ is something that is different for everybody,” Gillis explained. “I’m not sure why John would say that because that’s certainly not the case. Everyone is entitled to speculate on whatever they’d like to speculate on. We’ve moved very slowly on any discussions with Roberto. We’ll trade him when we get what we want to get for him or we won’t trade him. Either way is fine with me.
“If we can do something that is going to help us and moves our team forward in different areas, we’re certainly going to consider it. But that hasn’t occurred yet so I’m not quite sure why that would be said.”
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox yesterday reported no NHL team can make a trade during the NHL lockout, but that doesn’t mean teams aren’t talking trade. Cox claims a deal to send Luongo to Toronto isn’t close, “at least, not yet”. He reports its believed Gillis and Leafs GM Brian Burke spoke perhaps two weeks ago, whereby Gillis reduced the asking price he sought at the entry draft (centre Tyler Bozak, defenceman Jake Gardiner, a first-round pick and winger Matt Frattin) but still not low enough for Burke’s liking. Cox claims Bozak, however, remains the centerpiece being sought by the Canucks as part of the return for Luongo. The terms of a new CBA could also have an impact upon a potential deal.
Mark Zwolinski, meanwhile, believes Gardiner is “untouchable” and Frattin “pretty close to that”, but claims the Leafs have enough organizational depth to trade forwards and defensemen.
SPORTSNET.CA: John Shannon, citing “a reputable source”, stands by his original report claiming Luongo could land with the Maple Leafs soon after the lockout ends, claiming the deal in place is contingent upon what’s contained in the new CBA. He also said he didn’t know who would be going from Toronto to Vancouver in such a move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting to see more Toronto-based pundits starting to chime in on Shannon’s initial report, and good to see Shannon following-up on his initial report.
To recap, Gillis and Burke are believed to have had discussions regarding Luongo, but Gillis will apparently have to lower his asking price further. If the Leafs move Bozak they risk leaving themselves thinner at center than they currently are, though there’s talk of moving left wing James van Riemsdyk to center, a position he hasn’t played in years. Still, if they want Luongo, it might take Bozak as part of the return, given the Canucks own concerns at center, especially with Ryan Kesler still recovering from off-season surgeries.Of course, as noted, the next CBA could also play a significant part in any trade.
While it doesn’t appear as though there’s a “done deal” (even Shannon seemed to back away a bit by saying the deal is contingent upon a new CBA), it does seem the possibility exists, provided Luongo is willing to waive his “no-trade” clause to go to Toronto.