Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Luongo would be a mistake for both the Maple Leafs and Oilers

It's obvious people are starting to grow tired of all this NHL Lockout talk, as rumours surrounding the possible trading of Roberto Luongo have started to make the rounds one more time. Not surprisingly, the Toronto Maple Leafs still sit atop that list but recent talk has now turned the spotlight onto the Edmonton Oilers possibly having interest in the Vancouver Canucks puckstopper

While no one can honestly question the abilities of Luongo as a starting netminder, one can easily question his current contract...which runs until the end of the 2020-2021 campaign and see him paid an annual salary of $6.714 million over the next six seasons. There is no question that he is still a great goalie but if either Brian Burke or Steve Tambellini were to seriously consider making this sort of move, they should and ultimately will, find themselves on the unemployment line.

Back in late June, I wrote a piece focusing on the Leafs likely missing out on both Rick Nash and Justin Schultz and for their own sake, hopefully Roberto Luongo. With that being said, one can appreciate and understand the pressure Burke is under to make the playoffs but nothing has changed since late June.

This misconception many seem to have, that bringing in the former fourth overall selection of the New York Islanders, would some how make the Leafs a playoff team, is frankly laughable. Have a quick glance over at the Eastern Conference and tell me how that team gets into the playoffs.

It's safe to say the following teams would be almost guaranteed to make the playoffs:

Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals

Some may argue about the Caps but if it's not them, it will be someone from the Southeast Division. That leaves two spots and one of those surely belongs to the Ottawa Senators. Leaving one single spot up for grabs.

Even with Luongo between the pipes, can anyone honestly say Toronto would have a better team than any of the remaining seven? Perhaps the Islanders because the rest of the Atlantic Division will almost certainly make the post season, but who else? They are not better than the Buffalo Sabres, who's goalie is every bit as good as Luongo. With the injection of Jordan Staal into their lineup, you would be hard pressed to rank the Carolina Hurricanes behind the Leafs. How about Tampa Bay? Maybe but if  former Pekka Rinne understudy, Anders Lindback, turns into the type of netminder Steve Yzerman and company are hoping for, that answer would be a big fat no.

Which leaves the Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets. Are you getting my point yet? As good a goalie as Roberto Luongo is, bringing him into the fold now, would accomplish absolutely nothing but keeping the Leafs from finishing in a potential lottery pick...which this franchise desperately needs. It has to get worse before it can get any better...just ask the Edmonton Oilers and their fans.

Bringing us to the Oilers. When you couple a weekend tweet from Vancouver Province writer Jason Botchford, about the Oilers being "in on Luongo", with fellow Province writer Ben Kuzma hinting at the possibility of the same thing, on Tuesday's edition of Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer, you suddenly have people everywhere, talking about the potential of the big man ending up in Oil Country. Don't hold your breath because it is not happening.

There are those Oiler fans out there that believe Devan Dubnyk is just as good as Roberto Luongo and those people are out to lunch. They will point to Dubnyk's .916 and .914 save percentage during the last two seasons, playing in front of an inferior team, as the youngster taking huge strides forward in his game. While that may be true, his save percentage in 2011-2012 was only marginally better than the fans whipping boy in Nikolai Khabibulin, at .910. Point is, it is just a number and nothing against Devan but he and Luongo do not even belong in the same sentence.  

However, that absurd contract keeps Luongo from ever being an option in Edmonton. With the trio of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all set to make some large coin and the likes of Nail Yakupov and Schultz likely headed down that same path, where exactly does a $6.7 million netminder fit in? That's right, it doesn't and won't.

At the end of the day, Roberto Luongo will probably find his way into a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform and not because it would be the right move for the organization but simply because Brian Burke will not be able to help himself.

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