The dust has settled on what was one of the more uneventful deadlines that I can unfortunately remember, and wouldn't you know it, the Vancouver Canucks are still "stuck" with the best goalie in their franchise's history, Roberto Luongo. Only in a city like Vancouver do you get "stuck" with the best goalie in franchise history, but that's another rant for another day.
When the deadline passed and Luongo was still a Canuck, despite Gillis trying his absolute best to give him away to Toronto, that sense of impending dread that seems to always hang over this team came back in full force. Luongo gave an emotional presser, saying things like "my contract sucks" and "I'd scrap it if I could" for the media to dissect over the next little while. I'm not sure if you felt it too, but I know I was picking chunks of the sky out of my hair.
It was determined by many that Luongo's contract is immovable. Heck, even Roberto Luongo said it. That's simply not the case though. It's a shortened 48 game season, and the cap is set to drop. As team friendly as Luongo's contract is, even I would have to admit it will take maybe an amnesty buyout or two from certain teams to fit him in. More likely than that though, it could just take a goalie's stumbling in the playoffs to clear a spot for him. Whatever the case, there is a market for Luongo in the off-season. A market I will dissect below.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Let me preface any "in-depth" analysis as to why this is a good fit by throwing a big fuck you out there to Dave Nonis.
Now, as for that analysis. I have to wonder if the Maple Leafs have any interest in Luongo at this point. I can't imagine turning down a capable starting goaltender for the backup (Ben Scrivens) and two second round draft picks, let alone an elite one like Luongo. That being said, they still don't seem sold on James Reimer. If Reimer falters in the playoffs, expect Nonis to start begging for the last offer Gillis made.
Current Starting Goalie: James Reimer
2013 Record: 14-5-4
2013 Stats: 2.52 GAA .919 SV%
Signed Through: 2013-14 at $1.8M AAV
Now this is of course where Roberto Luongo wants to go; not sure the attraction is mutual. The Panthers have always been lukewarm on Luongo. Can't really blame them either. They have arguably the best goalie prospect in the NHL in Jacob Markstrom, which makes adding a much more expensive veteran on the back nine of his career a little counter-intuitive. It makes even less sense when you take into account that Markstrom's actually held his own this season on a horrible Florida team. In Markstrom's 15 starts this season he sports a 2.68 GAA and a 0.918 SV% along with a 6-8-1 record. Far from amazing numbers, but in case you haven't heard the Panthers don't play very good anything. Defense in particular though.
Current Starting Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
2013 Record: 6-8-1
2013 Stats: 2.68 GAA .918 SV%
Signed Through: RFA at season's end.
This destination makes by far the most of any I will suggest. At season's end Paul Homlgren is going to have to explain how he made a $51M mistake on Bryzgalov to his owner. Assuming he leaves that meeting with Flyers owner Ed Snider with his job, and I'm sure he will, his next move will be acquiring Luongo. That is, unless he's half as smart as I think Holmgren is and he genuinely believes Steve Mason can turn things around. He can't be that stupid though... can he?
Current Starting Goalie: Ilya Bryzgalov
2013 Record: 17-15-3
2013 Stats: 2.88 GAA .896 SV%
Signed Through: 2019-20 at $5.66M AAV
New Jersey Devils
I know what you're thinking. Yes, they do have Brodeur signed through next season. The deal he signed though was of the two year variety, which means there is no financial backlash to the Devils if he does retire. I don't think he is retiring at season's end, but at 40 years old it's entirely possible that it could happen. Brodeur's also been struggling with injuries of late which could lead him to consider retirement. Count the Devils among the "maybe, could sort of see it happening ish" type of landing spot for Luongo.
Current Starting Goalie: Martin Brodeur
2013 Record: 10-5-6
2013 Stats: 2.20 GAA .907 SV%
Signed Through: 2013-14 at $4.5M AAV
If the Coyotes are moved this off-season - and oh how overdue that would be - they could be interested in Lu. Mike Smith is apparently looking for $7M annually on a long term deal, which would scare away any sane GM. Back to the Coyotes moving though. If they get a new owner with deep pockets, it's entirely possible that they replace Smith with Luongo. Then again, not very likely.
Current Starting Goalie: Mike Smith
2013 Record: 12-10-3
2013 Stats: 2.71 GAA .904 SV%
Signed Through: UFA at season's end.
New York Islanders
If Luongo's contract is half as bad as he said it is, I'm surprised Garth Snow hasn't given up the farm for him. Seriously though, they do make some sense as a destination. Luongo was originally drafted by the Islanders, they have a lot of work to do if they have any hopes of reaching the cap floor and Nabokov is hitting unrestricted free agency. They also have a very disgruntled prospect by the name of Nino Neiderreiter that I'm sure Gillis would be more than willing to take off their hands. I definitely see the Islanders as a dark horse in the Roberto Luongo sweepstakes, and you should too.
Current Starting Goalie: Evgeni Nabokov
2013 Record: 18-11-4
2013 Stats: 2.64 GAA .906 SV%
Signed Through: UFA at season's end.
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