Hanging on to Luongo the right move for Vancouver

Vancouver should be in no rush to deal their $64 million goaltender. (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

Vancouver should be in no rush to deal their $64 million goaltender. (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Chris Messina

@cmessina85

One weekend is in the books and already there has been enough Roberto Luongo trade discussion to have us begging for some news about the Royals! This raises the question about whether even trading Luongo and anointing Cory Schneider as the Vancouver Canucks number one goalie is really a good idea for a team with Stanley Cup or bust expectations.

Schneider has played 69 regular season games and has one playoff win in eight appearances. Vancouver’s first rounder in 2004 (26th overall) has a lot of potential, there is no doubting that, but right now, in a season that will condense 48 regular season games into 99 days, maybe having a two-headed-monster in net isn’t such a bad thing. Not unless the Canucks get a significant return via trade.

The schedule is loaded with tons of back-to-back games or three in four nights, thus having depth at the goaltending position will be critical; having one goalie play 35 plus is going to be tough. For the time being Canucks GM Mike Gillis is looking like a genius by holding on to both of his starting goalies. All summer long he was asked the question about when the big trade was going to happen and he didn’t budge, never made the move.

At first it looked ridiculous what Gillis was asking for in return, especially when many believed the biggest asset he could get in return would be cap relief. But cap space is only useful in the off-season when a team is looking to sign a free-agent or if somebody else is looking to dump salary on the trade market.

Gillis also reminded us during an interview on Sportsnet yesterday that his goalie has a no trade clause and would have to okay any deal before the team can go forward with it. Maybe that is a problem; the teams that are willing to pay the asking price aren’t teams that Luongo is willing to go to. We’ll never know.

Now with the season under way, the decision to keep him doesn’t look so bad. Depth is going to be important but what happens if another team in contention suffers an injury to their goalie, do they panic and meet Vancouver’s asking price? What if Schneider gets hurt or as we saw this past weekend doesn’t pan out? In the season opener against Anaheim he got the hook after giving up 5 goals on 19 shots. Luongo lost in a shootout last night vs. Edmonton and to no surprise, Alain Vingeault didn’t say which goalie would get the call in the next game.

Right now Vancouver is probably looking for some depth up front with injuries to wingers David Booth and Ryan Kesler to start the year.  Even when those two are back in the line-up Gillis will still be in the market for a second-line center and maybe some more scoring depth on the wing. It’s going to be tough for Vancouver to find scoring help up front to supplement the line of Burrows and the Sedin twins while the other 29 teams in the league are still in playoff contention. Those areas might be addressed closer to the trade deadline.

Into days NHL there really aren’t too many teams that can afford to go more than six deep in forwards because of the salary cap, especially a team like the Canucks that is loaded on the blue line. They have five defenseman taking a cap hit of $3.3 million or more.

Maybe that is why teams that won the Stanley Cup the last three years have had their share of players still on entry level deals making contributions (something the Canucks lack). Doesn’t mean those players have to be the catalysts for their team’s success as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were for the Blackhawks win in 2010. The next year Boston while Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin were still on their first NHL contracts play lesser roles, but being factors during the Bruins playoff run none the less. Last year King’s goaltender Jonathan Quick was a cap hit of $1.7 million while they got huge contributions from their checking line of Dwight King, Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan. Having players contribute without a big contract allows GMs to use the cap space to shore up other areas on the roster that might need help.

One area of this deal that hasn’t been talked about much is the long term cap penalty Vancouver would receive if they traded Luongo and he decided to retire early.  Yes, the cap hit wouldn’t just be paid by the team acquiring him but the Canucks would also see him eat up a significant amount of space down the road. Check out this video by TSN’s Mike Johnson it gives all the details. That throws another wrench into the idea of trading him.

It’s nothing new; to be successful in the stock market revolves around buying low and selling high. In pro sports managing a salary cap and getting the best possible return on players in trade is no different. Maybe waiting a bit and letting things play out isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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Comments

  1. With the way the season has started I really don’t think they should trade Luongo just yet.

    Check out what I wrote superbowl wise!
    http://nickolaisblog.wordpress.com/

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