Vancouver Canucks: Are They Wise or Ridiculous Not to Trade Roberto Luongo?

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2012

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 04:  Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a save against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on February 4, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Canucks defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The "pause" button has been pressed on the 2012-13 NHL season. If you look at the freeze-frame of the Vancouver Canucks, you'll still see Roberto Luongo's name and face on the roster.

Five months after the Canucks were bounced from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings and Luongo lost his starting job, why is he still here? Is it smart or crazy that the Canucks have not yet offloaded their high-priced goaltender?

When dealing with big contracts, sometimes these things take time. The Canucks probably don't want to follow the Columbus Blue Jackets' management model, but there are good reasons why players like Rick Nash take a long time to trade—especially in a league with a salary cap. The right package has to be a combination of prospects and proven talent that fits the budget and also suits the team's needs.

In Canucks history, think back to the Pavel Bure and Petr Nedved holdouts. Those both took months to resolve and both times, Vancouver did alright in the end.

As I mentioned in this article back in July, Mike Gillis has preached patience throughout these proceedings. Don't forget, Gillis' player personnel experience comes not just from his stint as Canucks general manager, but also from a long career as one of the most successful player agents in the NHL. For years, he has had a front row seat when the big deals get made. He understands the market and the decision-makers.

Jason Botchford of The Province published a new story on September 22 updating the Luongo situation. He breaks down the dysfunctional situation in Toronto surrounding the dismissal of Luongo's old goaltending coach Francois Allaire and suggests that such an environment would be neither healthy nor productive to a netminder of Luongo's caliber and temperament.

Look at it from Luongo’s point of view, where it would have hit home. Is this really where he’s going to end up playing? For a team that undermined and dumped the coach who built the foundation of his game from age 14?

Botchford says the dream of a Florida deal looks unlikely at the moment. Vancouver and Toronto could still be trading partners, but this latest wrinkle makes it seem unlikely that Luongo would waive his no-trade clause to become part of such a toxic environment.

The interesting wrinkle is that there might be one or two new interested parties in the mix:

If there is encouraging news for Luongo, it’s that before the CBA expired at least one mystery team, and maybe two, entered the Luongo sweepstakes. Team Mysterious wasn’t one of the ones that had previously been attached to a Luongo trade in rumours, so scratch Columbus off your list along with the obvious ones.

Maybe it's Edmonton? Perhaps they could use a veteran presence as Devan Dubnyk develops, and they certainly have a wealth of quality assets. But a deal within the division, where Luongo would play against Vancouver six times a year? That's a public-relations nightmare—unless, of course, the Oilers were willing to put together a package so tasty that no general manager could pass it up. If the trade fills the Canucks' needs and helps make them better, it would have to be considered.

In short, Luongo's story is still far from over. By the time the lockout is settled, whenever that may be, the hockey landscape will look different from today, and that's going to change every team's financial and personnel situations.

Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have both been terrific in how they've handled the situation so far, which also helps to buy the organization some time.

Mike Gillis is smart to wait until a team is truly in need. That's when he'll secure the best possible return for a very valuable asset.

What do you think? Wise or ridiculous? Sound off in the comments below.


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