May 152009
 

I disagree with Ed Willes’ (Vancouver Province) and Cam Cole’s (Vancouver Sun) pieces that the Canucks must deal Roberto Luongo.

From Willes:

This might be the ultimate example of burying the lead, but let’s pause for a moment and consider the goalies who were still alive in the playoffs before Tuesday’s games.

In the Detroit-Anaheim series, you had a showdown between Chris Osgood, the man who’s widely considered to be the single greatest impediment between the Wings and a second straight Cup win, and Jonas Hiller, a 27-year-old NHL sophomore late of the Swiss league.

Back east in the Boston-Carolina series, you had Finnish league refugee Tim Thomas of the Bruins going against young Cam Ward of the Hurricanes.

Then there’s tonight’s finale in the epic Washington-Pittsburgh series, which pits 21-year-old Russian rookie Simeon Varlamov against the Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

The one team that had advanced to the conference final, meanwhile, features Nikolai Khabibulin, who was available on waivers earlier this season.

So, taken in total, what does this tell you? What does this say about the need for a superstar goalie?

From Cole:

The Western Conference final, not knowing the result of Tuesday night’s game as this is being written, will feature Nikolai Khabibulin in goal for the Hawks against either Detroit’s Chris Osgood or Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller. In the East, it’s Carolina’s Cam Ward or Boston’s Tim Thomas against Washington’s Simeon Varlamov or Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

The winning goaltenders of the Stanley Cup since the last time a “franchise” goaltender — Martin Brodeur in 2003 — backstopped the victorious team have been Khabibulin, Ward, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Osgood, who has won two Cups already and could make it three this spring. Among the losing finalists’ goalies have been Dwayne Roloson and Ray Emery.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to skin a cat in today’s NHL that do not involve tying up $8 million in the goaltending position. And most of the successful teams out there in playoff land have found the way. That’s not to say they wouldn’t love to have a franchise goaltender, but the question is: At what point does cost exceed benefit?

I’ll forget for a moment that Roberto Luongo has a no-trade clause which prevents the Canucks from trading him unless he asks them to. I’ll bite anyway.

Simply, I don’t believe for one second that the Canucks are a better team without Roberto Luongo. I realize that he takes up a significant amount of cap space and I understand that $7 million probably gets you a quality skater plus perhaps a good role player; however, I also remember 2001-2006 when the Canucks had all those good players in front of Dan Cloutier. In only 3 seasons with the Canucks, Luongo’s postseason numbers have already eclipsed Cloutier’s:

[Table=29]

And he’s taken them to the second round twice in three years – one more time than Cloutier and all the other Canucks goalies after Kirk McLean did since 1995. Combined.

Not fair to compare Luongo and Cloutier? Among active starting goalies, his career GAA is only behind Bryzgalov (16 GP, 1.68), Brodeur (176 GP, 1.98) and Giguere (52 GP, 2.08), and his career save percentage is only behind Bryzgalov (0.937). Granted, Luongo’s 22 GP in the postseason is a small sample; at this point however, his postseason numbers don’t scream playoff bust to me.

It’s funny actually. For years, Canucks fans were clamoring for an elite goalie. Now that they finally have one, some fans and media types want to drive him right back to the airport.

The fact is, in a salary cap world, each team is going to have weaknesses and only a finite amount of salary cap space to address them. Some Canucks fans wanted to face Detroit in the playoffs because they had Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin in goal. Some wanted to face Chicago because they lacked experience. Some wanted to face Calgary because they didn’t have much defensive depth after Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr. I admit that the Canucks have weaknesses up front, but the answer isn’t to get rid of their best player and weakening themselves in their strongest position.

  • Pingback: CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG | Part 2 of 2: Build it, not buy it

  • Laker

    Luongo needs to be traded. With all due respect I think you are missing why. It has nothing to do with his on ice play.

    It has everything to do with his non-committal talk about staying in Vancity.

    If he won’t extend this summer, he needs to go. Purely a business decision.

    If he extends long, then Schneider is trade bait.

    Strictly a business decision. Comparing Luongo to Cloutier is silly. Pretty much an insult to Luongo.

    Luongo has publicy been non-commital, pretty much playing on the they need me more than I need them angle.

    We are likely to lose Ohlund for nothing. We lost Naslund for nothing. Have we not learned anything? Is it even reasonable to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result?

  • Laker

    Luongo needs to be traded. With all due respect I think you are missing why. It has nothing to do with his on ice play.

    It has everything to do with his non-committal talk about staying in Vancity.

    If he won’t extend this summer, he needs to go. Purely a business decision.

    If he extends long, then Schneider is trade bait.

    Strictly a business decision. Comparing Luongo to Cloutier is silly. Pretty much an insult to Luongo.

    Luongo has publicy been non-commital, pretty much playing on the they need me more than I need them angle.

    We are likely to lose Ohlund for nothing. We lost Naslund for nothing. Have we not learned anything? Is it even reasonable to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result?

  • pastr

    I tend to agree with Laker… if Gillis can sign Lui to an extension by September- than we can continue to build, hoping we get some added offense from Bernier and upcoming Hodgson. Maybe we’ll have some cap space for a Bouwmeester to replace Ohlund.

    If we can’t sign Lui this summer- than we need to leverage the asset knowing we have Schneider in the wings. If we can get some young up-and comers (re: every cup winning team since the workstoppage) for him- and they excel- we could have 3-5 years of serious, consistent contention instead of unfulfilled cinderella contention every few years…

  • pastr

    I tend to agree with Laker… if Gillis can sign Lui to an extension by September- than we can continue to build, hoping we get some added offense from Bernier and upcoming Hodgson. Maybe we’ll have some cap space for a Bouwmeester to replace Ohlund.

    If we can’t sign Lui this summer- than we need to leverage the asset knowing we have Schneider in the wings. If we can get some young up-and comers (re: every cup winning team since the workstoppage) for him- and they excel- we could have 3-5 years of serious, consistent contention instead of unfulfilled cinderella contention every few years…

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com Alix Wright

    This was a really interesting post. As well as part 2.

    If you’re going the trade route mentioned in the comments, Lui has a NTC. Gillis has stated before that he doesn’t want to ask guys to waive them. Even if he does ask Lui to waive his, he’s going to be very limited trade wise. Lui’s not going to go just anywhere.

  • http://canuckshockeyblog.com Alix Wright

    This was a really interesting post. As well as part 2.

    If you’re going the trade route mentioned in the comments, Lui has a NTC. Gillis has stated before that he doesn’t want to ask guys to waive them. Even if he does ask Lui to waive his, he’s going to be very limited trade wise. Lui’s not going to go just anywhere.

  • Pingback: NHL goalie salaries and playoff impact | ian andrew bell

  • Pingback: RosterBlog » NHL goalie salaries and playoff impact

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    I understand that you want to protect your assets, especially in this cap world and especially an asset like Luongo. But just as important, it’s also about maximizing what you have (part 2 of this post).

    So the question is, do we trade the guy that gives us the best chance to win now (Luongo) for an unknown chance to win now and later (Schneider plus whatever Luongo gets us)?

    I obviously favor the first approach, but that’s because I’ve seen – as most Canucks fans have – the difference between having an average to good goalie and having a great one.

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    I understand that you want to protect your assets, especially in this cap world and especially an asset like Luongo. But just as important, it’s also about maximizing what you have (part 2 of this post).

    So the question is, do we trade the guy that gives us the best chance to win now (Luongo) for an unknown chance to win now and later (Schneider plus whatever Luongo gets us)?

    I obviously favor the first approach, but that’s because I’ve seen – as most Canucks fans have – the difference between having an average to good goalie and having a great one.

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    I should add that the reason Luongo is non-committal isn’t because he wants to leave, but because he wants to win – I think that’s a big difference. In this case, it’s up to Mike Gillis to build a winning roster around him – their best player and biggest difference maker – and to be fair, it’s something Gillis admitted to at his end of season presser.

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    I should add that the reason Luongo is non-committal isn’t because he wants to leave, but because he wants to win – I think that’s a big difference. In this case, it’s up to Mike Gillis to build a winning roster around him – their best player and biggest difference maker – and to be fair, it’s something Gillis admitted to at his end of season presser.

%d bloggers like this: