NHL Trade Rumors: Does a Robert Luongo for Vincent Lecavalier Trade Make Sense?

John BainCorrespondent IINovember 29, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on November 25 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Canucks defeated the Coyotes 5-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Early on this season, with an injury to goaltender Roberto Luongo, backup goalie Cory Schneider has taken full advantage of his opportunities. As a result, many fans would like to see Schneider signed to a contract extension and see Luongo get dealt out of Vancouver.

Of course, there's never a real problem with having two good goalies on your team, but when the backup goaltender overtakes a starter who is making upward of $6 million a year, if Schneider keeps his play up and continues to start even though Luongo is healthy a move may have to be made.

One rumor that has been out there for a while now is trading Luongo to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are desperate for some goaltending help with an aging Dwayne Roloson in net for them currently. The proposed trade is Luongo to Tampa for Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier is in steady decline, but is still projected to put up north of 60 points this season. Still, he is not the player he once was.

It seems as though this trade is purely money-for-money and a term-for-term deal. Luongo is set through 2021-22 with a top-heavy contract currently paying him $6.7 million this season, and until 2018 his salary will remain the same before incrementally reducing to $1 million his final couple of seasons. Lecavalier also has a long term-deal; however, his is much more lucrative, paying him $10 million until the 2015-16 season, and then reducing to $8.5 million in 2016, before finally reducing to $1 million the final year of his contract in 2020. 

Long-term, lucrative contracts are not fun for teams to manage. Unless the player is young when they sign it and shows tremendous upside, then sure go for it, but even then management runs a huge risk. Both Lecavalier and Luongo appear to have peaked and are either on the decline or on a plateau. This trade would not make sense for either side. Vancouver would much rather trade Luongo to a team like Columbus and get a Jeff Carter or some high draft picks out of the trade, than to take on another huge contract for a player whose position (centre) is the most deep position on the entire Canucks roster.

For Tampa Bay, they would love to keep Lecavalier as their veteran leader and a player who can help mold their youthful new forwards, but the contract value that he is each year in the cap is no longer reflecting in his play and is cause for concern. 

A deal between the Canucks and the Lightning would be extremely risky, and more likely than not, not worth it. Goaltenders are extremely risky to acquire because they are often very streaky, and any injury could ruin a career. Whereas trading a career player who has won a cup for your team and still shows chemistry among the players is at risk of not gelling with his new teammates.

In general, this trade would make total sense if it was just seen as the Canucks unloading Luongo to commit to Schneider, or the Lightning acquiring a world-class goaltender, but the player-for-player trade does not make sense and would never happen so long as Mike Gillis is in charge of the Canucks player movement. There are other teams that could take on a contract of a Lecavalier or Luongo, but to trade purely based on money and term opposed to need would be stupid.