Five years of Roberto Luongo?

Five years of Roberto Luongo?

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Photo: Postmedia Province

During TSN’s regular “Insider Trading” segment last night, McKenzie, LeBrun and Dreger each had an opportunity to drop some information on us regarding Roberto Luongo and the Leafs. McKenzie also had a chance to clear the bogus rumors of Brian Burke being fired in the next little while, and not surprisingly, the site that started the rumor took it down immediately afterward. Anything to get page hits for a couple days I suppose.

It’s no secret that teams have begun kicking tires on Luongo, and two of the most noted on Insider Trading were the Panthers and the Leafs. Florida was a name many threw out there when the Luongo rumors first started, but that quickly turned into just the Leafs and Tampa Bay due to their insane need for goaltending.

The Panthers are alright between the pipes right now, and still have a highly touted goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom. This seemed like a good enough reason to take their name out of the mix considering they also aren’t exactly loaded with money, but now they appear to be interested.

Will the Canucks be interested in what Florida has to offer? They’ve made some trades with the Panthers in the past, but LeBrun wasn’t so sure;

I think they are very interested in Roberto Luongo, but they’re a small payroll team, and it’s only going to happen if the Canucks (I think he means Panthers here) can send some money the other way. The Vancouver Canucks are not too interested in a trade like that right now. That type of “soft deal” is not the type of deal the Canucks want to make at this point.

That’s either a really confusing statement, or I’m just dumb. Or both.

If the transcript on TSN is correct and LeBrun means the Canucks want to unload more than just Luongo’s salary, then I’m not sure what to think. I’m not sure exactly what a “soft deal” includes, but I’m taking it as “if the Leafs land Luongo, it’s going to be a monster of a deal.”

McKenzie then piped in with this little tidbit, which is of most interest to Leafs‘ fans;

He’s got 10 years left on his contract, but if you look at the way the contract’s structured, he’s not going to play more than seven – the last three years are those bogus years for just over a shade over $1 million and he’s definitely not playing those. So the maximum commitment is seven years, maybe six.

Things are looking better already.

And then this:

There are some people out there who believe though, that Roberto Luongo is only prepared to play another four or five years in the National Hockey League.

The tricky part though is, Roberto Luongo cannot come to a pre-agreement with any team that is interested in him, saying “oh, I’ll only play four years, then I’ll let you off the hook,” because that would be cap circumvention. There is talk out there that Luongo doesn’t want to play any more than four or five years more years, but I think the teams would have to take it on faith or face value.

This is all great news. But to me, it seems like common sense anyway.

For one, I wouldn’t expect Luongo to play much longer than five years if his game is starting to slip badly. Here’s a guy who’s won Olympic gold and posted great numbers in the NHL for a long time. If he begins to hit the Gustavsson territory of save percentages, I doubt he’s going to want to go on doing that into his forties.

The other thing is this: I don’t believe Luongo can’t come to a pre-agreement with another club. Perhaps not officially, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if he wants to relay the message to the Leafs (or whoever) that his plan is to play until he’s 38, it’ll get through quite easily.

I think it’ll be tough for Luongo to walk away from 6.7 million he’s owed in year six (from now), but he’ll have no trouble retiring after than when his salary goes to 3.3 million for a year and then 1.1 for three.

So at this point I think it’s pretty fair to say that there’s a good chance Luongo retires after six years, a mediocre chance – based on what McKenzie said – that he could retire after five, and a slim chance he retires after four. Then again, if he sticks around after five and can’t play worth a damn in his sixth year, he can (likely) be demoted to the AHL. There’s also the chance that Luongo plays five or six years and his numbers don’t hit the shitter, which would be nice and isn’t impossible.

Basically what this boils down to is that the next time someone says “Ten years of Luongo!?” you’ll know it’s really only six. Maybe five. You alright with that?

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