Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Rumors: Roberto Luongo Is Now the Leafs Only Hope

Jon Reid@@JonReidCSMCorrespondent IIJune 19, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 11: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks dives for the loose puck during the first period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Another one bites the dust.

It was a billboard chart-topper when it hit the airwaves in 1980, and is now a saying that Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is seeing take effect before his eyes.

With Tomas Vokoun having his rights dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vokoun subsequently signing with the Pens for two years, followed by top-tier goalie prospect Anders Lindback being shipped to Tampa Bay from Nashville (a move that seemed inevitable with Pekka Rinne locking down the blue paint for the foreseeable future), Burke is slowly but surely seeing his options erode when it comes to improving his club's disastrous goaltending situation.

At this point, it appears as though pending free agent Josh Harding, current Canucks veteran Roberto Luongo and Los Angeles Kings backup netminder Jonathan Bernier are the only real upgrades that may be available for Toronto to pursue.

With Los Angeles having just won the Stanley Cup, however, and Jonathan Bernier still being under contract with Los Angeles for the upcoming season and still only entering restricted free agent status, it would be tough to imagine a scenario where the Kings would be willing to part with the young goalie without receiving an offer that is too good to refuse (which would probably require a team overpaying for the services of an unproven youngster).

That leaves Burke with the 28-year-old Josh Harding (who's never played in more than 34 games in a single season) and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.

Although Harding lacks experience, there is a real sign that he can be a stable No. 1 goaltender in Toronto (last season he finished the season with a GAA over 3.00 and this year it was at 2.62).

If you're not convinced that he's not a major upgrade over James Reimer, just compare their stats.

Last season in 25 games played, Harding posted a GAA of 3.05 and a save percentage of .905. This season, his GAA was a more respectable 2.62 and his save percentage jumped a bit to .917.

Contrast these numbers with James Reimer's.

Reimer played in 37 games last season, finishing with a GAA of 2.60 and save percentage of .921, while his GAA was 3.10 this year, to go along with a save percentage of just .900.

Doesn't seem like a significant upgrade to me (at least not enough of one to push the Leafs into postseason contention).

That leaves Roberto Luongo.

Yes, his contract may not expire until he's 43.

I know his cap hit is over $5 million per season and people question his postseason ability, but right now, he's the only option left on the market for Brian Burke if he is serious about ensuring the Leafs are perennial contenders once more.

In a recent article in the Toronto Sun, Steve Simmons talks about the possibility of Luongo coming to Toronto despite the potential pitfalls.

The fact is, Luongo would help Toronto both now and in the coming years, the cap hit can be managed rather easily (especially if the salary cap does, indeed, increase to the $70 million mark), age isn't nearly as much of a concern with goalies as position players, and it's not likely that Luongo will stick around for the entire length of his contract (remember, he isn't paid $5.3 million every season, that's just his cap hit) for the money he'd be earning.

Not only is Luongo one of the only remaining options on the market, it's possible that he could be the goaltender that Toronto has been waiting on for nearly a decade.