canucks

The Maple Leafs make sense as a trade partner for Canucks & Luongo

Spinning the Sphere of Speculation

Many things involving the Vancouver Canucks haven’t made sense in recent years. It’s ranged from Sami Salo being bit by a snake in Finland to the constant question of why Coach Vigneault can’t wait until after his press conference to devour a lozenge.

On this day, it is the debate revolving around Roberto Luongo going to the Toronto Maple Leafs and if the Leafs actually make sense as a trade partner for Mike Gillis et al. Does the contract situation of Sir Luongo combined with the wants and needs of T-Dot’s obsession make for a white wedding? Let’s answer these questions.

brian burke

Oh, you! (Photo - TheHockeyGuys.net)

What about Burke and No-Trade clauses?

We’ll hold off on the 10 year unification part of this scenario, but for now I’d like to touch on Roberto Luongo’s no-trade clause. Whatever out-clauses may exist in the agreement are irrelevant. In this case, a no-trade clause is a no-trade clause.

Down Goes Brown quoted Brian Burke as saying in January 2010, “I will not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade. I think a big part of being successful is your players knowing that they’re treated fairly. Organizational fairness to me is a huge component of what we do.”[1]

Kaberle was in fact traded February 18th, 2011 to the Boston Bruins where he went on to win the Stan…uhm, nevermind. It should be noted though that despite Kaberle’s 5 year contract ending that June, the NTC involved had expired after the 3rd season.

Hence, Brian Burke did not dishonour said clause by asking the player to waive it.

Lu vs. Gillis

Additionally, you have to assume Roberto may been a little sour with MG for giving him a NTC and while not technically asking him to waive it, has pretty much let the situation become so that Luongo is forced to waive it.

Now to what Burkie said later that same week: “I think no trade clauses are still a big problem. We have one, and that’s for J.S. Giguere and that’s because his son has medical problems and needs to be near UCLA medical school.

As well as he’s played for us and what a great guy he was, had it been for any other reason, I still wouldn’t have done it.

I think they’re coach killers and they put the player in a bad spot more often than they help him. Once a team decides they don’t want you and you say, ‘I’ve got a no-trade,’ then I say, ‘fine, sit up here near me.’ To me, I don’t think they accomplish what they’re intended to accomplish. So we have very few of them and we intend to keep it that way.”[2]

Bobby Lu’s no-trade clause was obviously given to him by the current Canucks management but how many of the Leafs’ current 7 were given by Brian Burke? Well the answer may surprise you and is a perfect symbol of why the Leafs may in fact be sensible trade partners for the Vancouver Canucks. That number is 6.

For a guy who basically said no-trade clauses are the devil, he’s sure gone foosball on the Leaf faithful. As mentioned, this is a sign that Roberto Luongo may fit well in TO. Burke is a bit more comfortable it seems with having players who hold no-trade clauses and Roberto does in fact have a very long one.

Could it mean a Decade of Decadence?

It’s been a very long time since the Maple Leafs had any sort of significant success. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 or won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Roberto Luongo would fix this problem by immediately securing a playoff spot in his first season there.

luongo canucks

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, Ehhhh, Toronto's Okay, So Trade me Maybe! (Photo - TheScore.com)

We may hate on the center of the universe a little or a lot here on the best coast, but if you don’t think the Leafs have been close to making the playoffs the last two or three seasons, you haven’t been paying attention.

Brian Burke should be head over heels for Roberto Luongo regardless of the remaining term on Lu’s contract because there’s probably no one out there better suited to steal those extra points needed to slip inside the playoff window.

Brian Burke and his crony Dave Nonis (who may I remind everyone brought Lu to Vancouver) should be sitting in a Starbucks somewhere deliberating about where they want to take Roberto for his first dinner in Toronto.

They should be discussing the shortest amount of time they can give after Lu retires to have his number retired for bringing the Leafs 10 straight years of playoff hockey, or however many years he actually plays of the 10 remaining.

They should be planning on where in the parade to place the official Roberto Luongo float.

Hey, speaking of Dave Donut Nonuts, he spoke with Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro during their show on the FAN590 Radio earlier this week.

As Sportsnet Writer Luke Fox summed it up, Nonis said that he’d be surprised if James Reimer and Ben Scrivens were the team’s two goalie next season and added that they’d be looking to add a veteran goaltender instead.

“From a Leafs standpoint, we need to make sure that we backfill and have some depth there so that we have some quality goaltenders to pick from. Yes, we’ll look at unrestricted free agency, we’ll probably jump in for a couple pieces, but overall we’re going to approach the trade market as a primary source of improvement.”

What about the term?

The likelihood of The Italian Stallion bringing post-season play back to the GTA is one thing, but can the Maple Leafs and their cap situation handle a 10 year contract with a cap hit of $5,333,333[4] million on their books?

The answer is simply YES! This is because the Leafs already have 17 players signed through this season and the ones who are yet to be signed are mostly bottom feeders salary-wise. You can add on top of that the nearly $14 million in cap space[5] the Leafs currently have according to CapGeek.com!

Toronto is extremely suited, at least as suited as anyone else, to take on this contract and would even add a little more to that cap gap with whomever they sent back this way.

Whether that be Luke Schenn, Jake Gardiner or Ben Scrivens as I’ve read on platforms such as twitter, forums and comment sections, Luongo will taste and feel like Baby Bear’s porridge to the mouth of the Goldilocks that is MLSE.

That is to say, just right.

Leafs legend Dave Keon doing what EVERY Hockey Fan wishes for. (Photo - HamiltonNews.com)

Will Leafs fans Hate or Appreciate?

While it’s entirely possible that Leafs nation could turn on Roberto after two or three sub-par seasons, it seems more likely to me he would become the best goalie they’ve had since the likes of Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph.

As Dante Martella of WeWantACup.com points out in his piece entitled, “Roberto LuongNO??,” being akin to Cujo and the Eagle means playoff hockey.

Martella who goes by @dmartella12 on twitter and is the lead writer for WeWantACup.com also says in his story, “…while he [Luongo] may be nearing the latter stages of his career, there’s no reason he can’t still put up 40-50 solid games. Perhaps his days as a 70+ game starter are gone, but that might even be a blessing in disguise.

With a young Reimer, and a goalie that has been beaten down by media and fans and handled it very well in Luongo, it seems like a perfect match. Both goaltenders would be seeking to prove themselves in different manners, and the competition would still be high.”[3]

Dante hits the nail on the head here and to boot, we can say with utmost certainty that James Reimer isn’t anywhere near Cory Schneiders level at this point so there isn’t much chance of Luongo being usurped by him.

I also chatted with the founder of WWAC, Matteo (@wewantacupcom) who thinks Luongo brings with him a mettle and fortitude to be desired by any team.

“I think having a proven goalie like Luongo would be great for the Leafs. We have not had a proven #1 in far too long. His long term contract and salary may be too much baggage and prove to be the deal breaker.

Yes the fans will be hard on him. But Leaf fans are starving for success and will quickly fall in love with any player who helps us right this ship.

Winning changes everything!”

I also asked Matteo if he gets the vibe that most Leafs fans feel Luongo is a “proven” goalie and he responded with, No I don’t, but based on his numbers I think it’s safe to say he is even though he’s not a championship goalie…Yet.”

So there you have it Canucks fans, two of the top writers from one of the top Leafs blogs out there who can vouch for the love Luongo will potentially receive should the prospect of him going to Toronto be fulfilled.

If I had it my way, this whole thing never would have happened and Bobby Lu wouldn’t have ever become the centerpiece of such a debacle, but there comes a time where one must face the music and this tune is singing me a song about Roberto Luongold being in need of a change of scenery for his own good.

Toronto seems to be the glove that best fits this scenario’s hand.

Will his final destination be the center of the universe or will someone like Steve Yzerman alter his stance in the coming weeks? Stay tuned folks, this off-season has only just begun.

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