In this installment, the topic of discussion will be on breaking down the potential teams who will attempt to acquire Roberto Luongo, and what are the projected deals that they will offer to get him. The primary assumption is that Luongo will be traded this summer by the Vancouver Canucks to one of the 29 other teams in the NHL.
The analysis will be divided into three different sections. First, the discussion will cover which teams are most likely to get Luongo. Furthermore, included will be a brief projection of what a potential deal will include and an opinion on whether this move is in the right direction for the team.
Here is a list of five teams that are most likely adding Luongo to be the starter next season:
Incumbents: James Reimer 34 GP, 3.10 GAA, .900 SV%. Jonas Gustavsson 42 GP, 2.92 GAA, .902 SV%.
Projected Deal (plus Raymond): first-round pick (No. 5, 2012), D Luke Schenn, F Nikolai Kulemin.
Verdict: The Toronto Maple Leafs desperately need (insert word: must) to win next season. The goal is to to make the Eastern Conference playoff for the first time since the last Collective Bargaining Agreement came to existence.
It has been seven years since the Leafs made it, and the team must give the fans some glimmer of hope in 2013. Therefore, the move to acquire a definitive No. 1 work-horse goaltender in the offseason is a major step forward.
If they can also persuade Mike Gillis to send Mason Raymond to Toronto, the Leafs will have enough depth offensively next season to win some games with Luongo.
Incumbents: Mathieu Garon 48 GP, 2.85 GAA, .901 SV%. Dwayne Roloson 40 GP, 3.66 GAA, .886 SV%.
Projected Deal (plus Hansen): first-round pick (No. 10, 2012), F Brett Connolly, D Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Verdict: Steve Yzerman personally made trips in the 2011-12 season to watch the Canucks games. One notable appearance was earlier in an away game against Chicago Blackhawks. Cory Schneider made the start and won the game.
Yzerman was really interested in Cory Schneider, and if he can acquire Roberto Luongo, he has plenty of good memories having Luongo as his gold medal-winning goalie at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
If the Lightning add Luongo to the group of forwards and the system that Guy Boucher implements, the team will be playoff-bound for the next few seasons.
Incumbents: Steve Mason 46 GP, 3.39 GAA, .894 SV%. Curtis Sanford 36 GP, 2.60 GAA, .911 SV%.
Projected Deal (plus Raymond, Connauton): Rick Nash, Mark Dekanich
Verdict: Of the potential suitors for Luongo, the Columbus Blue Jackets are the team most in need of All-Star talent. Luongo may not be the guy he was in 2007, but he can still play very well and keep the team on the playoff track.
The move will also allow Steve Mason to learn under a good mentor, and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. In this deal, Columbus will want to offload salary, and if Rick Nash agrees to join the Sedin twins on the top offensive line in Vancouver, that clears enough room.
Scott Arniel, the former-coach of the Blue Jackets, had close relationships with Manitoba Moose prospects. They may like to add an offensive defenseman in Kevin Connauton in the trade.
If Columbus is able to make its way to Roberto Luongo's preferred destinations, they will benefit significantly from acquiring the star goalie.
Incumbents: Corey Crawford 57 GP, 2.72 GAA, .903 SV%. Ray Emery 34 GP, 2.81 GAA, .900 SV%.
Projected Deal (plus Higgins): first-round pick (No. 19, 2012), Viktor Stalberg, Brandon Saad.
Verdict: It is very difficult to imagine how the most hated rivals of the Canucks would be on Luongo's wish list. However, Chicago does have an attractive and youthful team. The defense is solidified with workhorses Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
If Luongo sees enough from the team that had good success shooting against him, he might be willing to roll the dice and join the Blackhawks as a new teammate.
Chicago may ask Christopher Higgins to be included to add to their second or third line. If Chicago makes this move, they allow prospect Alexander Salak to gradually develop into the No. 1 goalie they project him to become.
This buys the Blackhawks a few years until Luongo's contract allows the team to trade him freely.
Incumbents: Jose Theodore 53 GP, 2.46 GAA, .917 SV%. Scott Clemmensen 30 GP, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%.
Projected Deal (plus Raymond): first-round pick (No.17, 2012), Jose Theodore, Shawn Matthias.
Verdict: Roberto Luongo would tell people he never intended on leaving Florida in the first place. His Italian family lives in Fort Lauderdale. He is very close to his family and would prefer to go back home if possible.
On the other hand, the Florida Panthers are the team that is probably least in need to make changes to goaltending. Panthers GM Dale Tallon knows all about long-term contracts with big salary from his Cristobal Huet experience.
Moreover, Jose Theodore has played a decent season and backup Scott Clemmensen is capable of stepping in at any given moment, as proven once again by his first-round playoff appearance against the New Jersey Devils.
Of the five teams that might get Luongo to join them, Florida will benefit the least, and the team would probably be headed towards the wrong direction.
This is Joseph Trenton reporting from the home of the Canucks.
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