Apr 042013

Roberto Luongo remained a Vancouver Canuck after the NHL trade deadline

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 CanucksPenalty to other teamPenalty duration
    2018 (age 39)$1,857,500$1,725,8334 seasons (2018-19 to 2021-22)
    2019 (age 40)$2,476,667$2,301,1113 seasons (2019-20 to 2021-22)
    2020 (age 41)$3,715,000$3,451,6672 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.
Apr 022013

Vancouver Canucks have acquired Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars.

Photo credit: Sportsnet

Not that GM Mike Gillis needed to be reminded of the Canucks’ lack of depth at center, but just to be sure, it was put in plain view in their 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks last night. Alain Vigneault tried Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins and his pack of gum at center. Even Henrik Sedin took some defensive zone faceoffs, which, if you’re aware of the team’s use of zone starts, flies in the face of their *ahem* process.

Gillis finally pulled the trigger on a trade this morning, acquiring Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars. In return, the Canucks sent prospect Kevin Connauton and a 2nd round draft pick to the Stars.

At 5’9″, Roy is a small center, but can provide offense for the offensively-starved Canucks. Despite his size, he’s averaged 0.77 points per game in the NHL, including a 4-season stretch with the Buffalo Sabres in which he recorded 20+ goals and 40+ assists in each one. This season, he has 18 assists and 22 points in 30 games with the Stars, including an active 4-game point streak in which he has 6 points (1G-5A). More importantly, it gives Vigneault additional options, especially with Ryan Kesler expected back in the next week.

The Canucks do give up a once-promising offensive prospect on defense in Connauton. But with the defense core of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison and Alex Edler all signed long-term, Chris Tanev sure to re-signed to an extension this summer, and 2011 5th rounder Frankie Corrado progressing leaps and bounds this season, Connauton’s opportunity to move up to the big club was limited.

Roy is a rental player. His contract, which carries a $4 million cap hit, expires at the end of the season, and he’s expected to test the free agent market this summer. In the end, the Canucks gave up some future depth to hopefully fill a present need.

You be the judge: Was this a good trade?

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