Despite the lockout putting a hold on all potential trades, the rumors have continued to swirl around Roberto Luongo. A few weeks ago, it was reported that a deal between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs was done and would be finalized upon CBA completion. As Damien Cox pointed out on The Star, that may not be the case. While a deal may not be complete, the Leafs remain the most likely candidate to trade for the veteran goaltender, who brings a cap hit of $5.33 million until 2022.
The question is, can the Canucks get what they want for him?
Answering this question is more complicated than it seems. As Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have brilliantly displayed, what you want and what you ask for are not the same thing.
At the entry draft, the Canucks proposed a trade that would send Luongo to Toronto in exchange for Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin and a first-round pick. Now, I think every hockey fan would agree that's absurd. This is the equivalent of Gary Bettman's initial offer that increased the owners' share of hockey related revenues from 43 percent to 57. Mike Gillis identified that there was really no real urgency to get a deal done, so he started negotiations high. This is Negotiating 101; it allows the Canucks to then propose a more realistic offer with the illusion that they've conceded something.
Gary Bettman probably went into this telling the owners they can expect something around a 50/50 split. 57/43 was nothing more than a positioning piece. Similarly, Gillis' initial offer was a positioning piece, while his expectations were much less.
According to Damien Cox, the "talks have continued on and off, with Bozak as the centrepiece. Vancouver believes Bozak would be a good fit as their No. 3 centre behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. The Leafs might be willing to pay more than Bozak, but how much more is unclear."
If that is the case, it looks like the Canucks have given up on Jake Gardiner, the piece that made that proposal so absurd to begin with. So that brings us back to the original question; can the Canucks get what they actually want for Roberto Luongo?
For those who believe Gillis' entry draft demand was an honest proposal, the answer is no. The Canucks will never get Bozak, Gardiner, Frattin and a first rounder for Luongo. Even if Bozak, Frattin and the draft pick were removed from the equation, there may not be a deal. Brian Burke has made it very clear that Jake Gardiner is not on the market.
For those who believe Gillis' entry draft demand was a positioning piece and that he actually wants/expects Bozak plus a few minor pieces, then yes, he can and will get that. The Leafs simply can't afford to walk away from such an elite goaltender. They haven't made the playoffs since before the 2004-05 lockout. Luongo could be the piece that ends the drought and saves Brian Burke's job.
There is a deal to be made here, and the false report that it was done does not change that. At some point, Mike Gillis and Brian Burke will find common ground. I believe the deal will look something like Luongo for Bozak, Mike Komisarek and possibly a second or third round draft pick. If Gillis still wants a first round pick to be included, Mason Raymond may need to be added to the mix.
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