By Rolf Sturm
This was predictable.
The ink has yet to dry on the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement and already the noise needle has swung with lightning speed from HRR and contract talk to trade speculation, particularly about a Vancouver goaltender who’s apparently bound to play for anyone other than the Canucks.
Roberto Luongo, whose ridiculous contract and cap hit makes him a risky commodity, has been on the lips of full-time hockey talkers since last year’s playoff exit by the Canucks. Florida, Chicago, Philadelphia and of course Toronto have all been in the mix of potential landing spots. It’s only in T.O. where the media provides much of the oxygen for the Leafs and all things NHL, where the noise can get so loud and ridiculous it’s best to tune it out.
Don’t get me wrong; speculation and opinions about actual hockey is much better than listening to bored reporters and hockey pundits cite mind-numbing CBA jargon about HRR, compliance and the like. Yet mere hours after a tentative deal was struck January 6, the background noise around here instantly turned to the Leafs’ goaltending situation.
Will somebody please give James Reimer and Ben Scrivens each a pair of noise-cancelling headphones? Then again, it is T.O. and there is pent up demand that’s just been recently unleashed with the NHL’s return.
At any rate, here’s my two cents worth about a potential Luongo deal.
This would be a bad deal for several reasons, any of which could potentially make a GM nervous.
Luongo’s too old, let alone in 2021 when his ridiculous contract expires.
He is not worth it at $5.3M per season in a cap obsessed world.
He is no longer a top 10 goalie.
He will not on his own, qualify the Leafs for the playoffs.
He is not worth giving up anything better than a fourth liner.
He’s not a winner in the truest sense of that word.
He’s a bit of a head case.
He is not Toronto’s first choice nor are the Leafs his. He just looks like a choice right now.
Any three of these arguments should dissuade a GM from picking up the phone. Heck, even two would seriously make you reconsider. But if you agree with most of this, we’ll never see the likes of Bobby Lou at the ACC in this truncated season. And that would better for all concerned both in the long and short term.