The Toronto Maple Leafs won't be able to trade for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and not give up much value because even though the veteran's contract is massive, he is still capable of helping a team make a deep playoff run.
Here is the latest rumor involving Luongo and the Leafs, according to TVA Sports (via SLAM! Sports):
According to TVA Sports hockey analyst Enrico Ciccone, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke contacted his Vancouver Canucks counterpart, Mike Gillis, about the 33-year-old goaltender last weekend.
There's no question that acquiring Luongo would bolster the Leafs' chances of ending their playoff drought, but does general manager Brian Burke have enough pieces to make a deal with the Canucks?
Yes, he sure does.
To ensure that the Canucks still have great goaltending depth after trading Luongo, asking the Leafs for young netminder James Reimer would be a wise move. Reimer has a lot of talent and a bright future ahead of him, but he's not an untouchable player, especially if the return includes a goaltender of Luongo's caliber.
The Canucks really need some more center depth, especially at the NHL level. Toronto has two quality centers that it could use in a Luongo trade: Joe Colborne and Tyler Bozak.
Colborne is a phenomenal talent with impressive offensive skills and great size. He has the potential to be a good top-six player for many years and would be able to contribute to the Canucks' offense in the near future.
If Vancouver is looking for a player that can make a more immediate impact at center, Bozak is the best option. He's coming off the best season of his career and would provide some much-needed third line scoring for Vancouver.
Nazem Kadri is another young forward that the Canucks would likely covet as well. His defensive skills aren't what they should be at this point of his career, but he definitely has the potential to be a solid two-way player.
Newly-acquired winger James van Riemsdyk hasn't even played a game for the Leafs yet, so I don't think Burke would be quick to move him anytime soon, but the former second overall pick has the size and goal scoring ability that the Canucks desperately need.
The Canucks could also use some more defensive depth. Matt Finn, who was selected by the Leafs in the second round of this year's draft, is one defenseman that Burke could consider parting with in a trade for Luongo.
Toronto has a lot of defensive depth, but players such as Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner are probably untouchable because of their potential to become legitimate No. 1 defensemen.
The Leafs can also offer the Canucks a number of expiring contracts that Vancouver can acquire to shed payroll in attempt to create as much salary cap space as possible for what promises to be a fantastic free-agent class next summer.
Burke has the pieces to get a deal done without having to give up anyone from his core of promising young players, including Rielly, Gardiner and Phil Kessel.
To get Luongo, Burke will probably have to offer a first-round pick from the 2013 NHL draft and one or two of the players from the following list:
- Nazem Kadri
- Tyler Bozak
- James Reimer
- Joe Colborne
- Clarke MacArthur
- Matt Finn
- Nikolai Kulemin
- James van Riemsdyk
- Tim Connolly
Giving up a first-round pick from a deep draft wouldn't be ideal, but the Leafs already have a number of first-round picks in their organization who are on their way to becoming NHL regulars.
There is one problem from the league's most recent CBA offer to the NHLPA that the Leafs could potentially run into if they pursue Luongo, as TSN's Bob McKenzie explains.
One of most interesting aspects of NHL proposal is aimed at punishing clubs more than players, with regard to existing back-diving deals.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 17, 2012
Any existing deal in excess of 5 yrs would carry cap hit in every year of contract, even if player were to retire with year(s) left.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 17, 2012
In other words, the benefit clubs thought they were getting by reducing AAV with back-diving deals/bogus end yrs would be reduced/negated.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 17, 2012
Sorry I lied. Important note on back-diving contracts (BDC). If player traded, then later in deal retires, original club on hook for cap hit— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 17, 2012
If these rules become part of the next CBA, the Canucks are going to want more in return for Luongo. However, even then, Burke and the Leafs have the assets to make a deal.