Has Roberto Luongo played his last game as a Canuck?

Has Roberto Luongo played his last game as a Canuck?

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Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

With Cory Schneider starting his second straight game in goal for the Vancouver Canucks last night, and winning, there are some in the Vancouver media who are saying Roberto Luongo may have played his last game as a Canuck. They also suggest  that the Leafs, of all teams, should take a run at him.

Connecting the dots, it’s easy to see a fit. Toronto is in desperate need for a veteran, bona fide #1 goalie and there aren’t many that are available that meet the criteria. Luongo has impeccable pedigree and a lot of hardware—save for a Stanley Cup—which makes him even more attractive than the current crop of available goalies. Cory Schneider has performed very well for the Canucks and in spite of all odds managed to wrestle the #1 position from Luongo. With Schneider’s contract expiring, the Canucks find themselves at a cross roads when it comes to the goaltending situation, and in light of recent events it could well be Luongo, not Schneider, Mike Gillis opts to move.

There are a few things that stand in the way of that: #1. Cap hit (5.33 million, in itself, not too bad). #2. Length of term (10 more seasons). #3. Value of (young) talent going back the other way. #4. The fact that Luongo’s contract, with his salary dipping to $1 million for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons which the 33-year-old will never play, is clearly a cap-circumventing deal by Burke’s own rules, insofar as he spoke out against them and suggested he wouldn’t ever sign one. The key question here being “would he trade for one?”

Perhaps the difference between signing one or trading for one would be only lawyer speak, but there’s little doubt Burke has to do what it takes to solve the goaltending dilemma that has undermined his efforts to return the Leafs to the playoffs. If it remains a problem next season, it will undoubtedly go down as the crucial downfall of his failed legacy. Burke has to get this right and turning to a guy like Tomas Vokoun in free agency and hoping for the best gives him no assurances after the major injury he sustained that ended his season. Conversely, despite a slow start Luongo was his usual 30+ win, .920 self.

Ultimately any interest Burke may or may not have in Luongo will likely depend on his feel for how his type of contract will be handled under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the NHL is going to follow the footsteps of the NBA’s inclusion of an amnesty provision in its new CBA, teams are allowed to jettison a cap hit once at any point during the 10-year agreement, provided it’s done before the start of the season. If Burke sees the inclusion of such a clause as likely in the NHL’s next CBA, Luongo suddenly becomes a much more desirable commodity.

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