Roberto Luongo will reportedly submit a short list of preferred trade destinations, and the Maple Leafs are believed on that list, which is bound to send Leafs Nation into a frenzy. Read on for the latest installment of the exciting new hockey guessing game: “Where Will Luongo Go?”


Where is Luongo bound?

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford cited a tweet yesterday by TSN’s James Duthie, claiming Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will submit a short list of teams he’ll accept being trade to, and the Toronto Maple Leafs “will be on it”. Botchford cites the Leafs have several factors in their favor, including the presence of assistant GM Dave Nonis, who brought Luongo to Vancouver in 2006, goalie coach and Luongo’s longtime goalie guru Francois Allaire, and could afford to carry his big contract.

SPORTSNET.CA: claimed the Tampa Bay Lightning will also be on Luongo’s shortlist.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox, prior to this report of the Leafs being on Luongo’s list, looked at the factors which could affect the Leafs if they acquired the netminder, including his salary, the cost of acquiring him, hisage, and skill level, and wondered if Leafs GM Brian Burke could bring himself to take on the type of contract he’s railed against for years.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Buffery, prior to the TSN report, doubted Burke will part with the assets to land Luongo, who could over time become a very expensive backup as his skills fade.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle believes the Canucks shouldn’t expect to get a big return for Luongo, regardless of where he could be dealt.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman believes the Lightning and Luongo’s former team, the Florida Panthers, could be on his wish list, though the Panthers have a very promising young goalie in Jacob Markstrom. Friedman also points out the most expensive years of Luongo’s contract are now past, noting he’ll make just over $6.7 million per season for the next six years, then his salary drops significantly in the final four seasons. Teams must be prepared to commit $40.3 million over the next six years. Friedman believes big market clubs like Toronto or Chicago could handle that, but it would be tougher for lower revenue teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, if we go by the reports, Toronto, Florida and Tampa Bay will be among the club’s on Luongo’s wish list. If we’re talking which team can best afford to carry his contract, then as Friedman points out, it could be the Leafs. Does Brian Burke, who has led the charge against contracts like Luongo’s, and is expected to lead the charge for term limits on contracts in the next CBA, risk making himself a hypocrite, thus blunting his influence to push for contract limits, by acquiring Luongo? Whether you love or hate Burke, he’s usually a man of strong principles, and usually sticks to his word. Still, the need for a top goaltender and to perhaps save his job in Toronto could win out. 

It should be remembered that, while the remaining bulk of Luongo’s contract will be paid out over the next six years, the $5.333 million per season cap hit remains the same, regardless of how low his actual salary is per season. While it’s also true he lacks a “no-movement” clause, which means he could be buried in the minors, it’s  believed that loophole could be closed in the next CBA, meaning any team acquiring Luongo will be stuck with that cap hit on their books in his final seasons, unless he retires. That cap hit could prove a significant hindrance down the road.

I agree with Mirtle the Canucks shouldn’t expect a big return for Luongo, but given their need to free up some cap space to re-sign other key players and seek depth elsewhere in their lineup, they might not want a big return, but rather an affordable one, like one or two promising, affordable young players, picks and/or prospects.