Photo credit: CBC
Sometimes, life gets in the away. So my trade deadline thoughts are a bit belated. Here they are:
- I don’t think Roberto Luongo is “unwanted”. If you believe GM Mike Gillis after yesterday’s trade deadline, it appears 5 teams were interested in Lu’s services. And if you think about it, the fact that Gillis didn’t trade the star netminder says that he’d much rather have him in his lineup – as a backup and a security blanket – than trade him for a second round draft pick. Teams want him. They may not necessarily want the contract, but he’s far from “unwanted”.
- I don’t blame Gillis for not trading Luongo yesterday. Partly, I’ve always thought that he wouldn’t be traded until after the season anyway, most likely at the draft. But also, the expectation has always been that a return for Luongo in any mid-season deal would have to help the team at this year’s playoffs. A second round draft pick doesn’t do that. And if it’s true that the Leafs were only willing to surrender draft picks because the Canucks wouldn’t retain some of Lu’s salary, it does not give the Canucks someone to back-up Cory Schneider for the rest of the season. If the market for Luongo was truly just in draft picks – or even if the Canucks were willing to just give him away for a bag of pucks – why wouldn’t Gillis just keep him for one more postseason run and move him in the summer? Now, if both Luongo and Schneider are both still in the Canucks’ crease when next season starts, well, that’s a different story all together.
- Gillis’ big gamble, of course, is where he gauges the market for Luongo to be in the summer. On the one hand, the cap is going down to $64.3 million, which, as we’ve seen, has made teams hesitant to take on big contracts. On the other hand, teams will also be able to better assess their needs and have the option of using their two compliance buyouts to rid themselves of undesirable contracts and acquire someone who is still one of the top goaltenders in the league. (I’m looking at you, Philly.)
- Much was made of the cap benefit recapture penalty teams could potentially incur should Luongo retire before the end of his contract so I went to CapGeek and played around with their calculator. Assuming Luongo gets traded this offseason, here are the results:
Luongo retires in: Penalty to Canucks Penalty to other team Penalty duration 2018 (age 39) $1,857,500 $1,725,833 4 seasons (2018-19 to 2021-22) 2019 (age 40) $2,476,667 $2,301,111 3 seasons (2019-20 to 2021-22) 2020 (age 41) $3,715,000 $3,451,667 2 seasons (2020-21 to 2021-22)
Luongo’s contract starts diving after the 2017-18 season. If he retires after that (he turns 39 in 2018), the Canucks will incur a cap penalty of $1,857,500 in each of the 4 seasons left in his contract (2018-19 to 2021-22); the team that acquires him will incur a cap penalty of $1,725,833 in each of those same 4 seasons. IMHO, these are fairly insignificant amounts, and even more insignificant when you consider the salary cap may well be in the mid-to-upper $70 million (if not more) by then.
- Count me among those who were hopeful the Canucks would make a bigger splash at the deadline, but ultimately not surprised that they didn’t. The fact is, I don’t believe they’re in a position to go “all-in” this season and try to keep up with the moves the Penguins, Rangers and Bruins made. In other words, I don’t think they’re in a position to give up prospects like Nicklas Jensen, Frankie Corrado and Brendan Gaunce for short-term help.
- But also, how many Western Conference teams got significantly better yesterday? Certainly, the Blues did by adding Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold to their blueline and the Blue Jackets did by adding Marian Gaborik up front, but neither are locks to make the playoffs. (Neither are the Canucks, mind you, but I digress.) Perhaps the Wild improved by acquiring Jason Pomminville, but I’d argue the Canucks acquiring Derek Roy counters that. Other than that, the Blackhawks and Red Wings stood pat, and the Ducks, Kings Sharks and Oilers simply added depth pieces. My point is, even after the trade deadline, I don’t see the Canucks chances of competing to get out of the Western Conference to be any different from they were a couple of days ago.