Sports

April 30, 2012

Twisted Logic: The Fallacy of Trading Roberto Luongo

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Written by: Jay Adams
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Lu-Goodbye1

Firstly, if the club is convinced that Schneider is an elite goaltender, they could immediately sign him to a long-term deal and eliminate the risk of unrestricted free agency. Schneider would be granted a starting position and become the centerpiece of the team’s back-end.

Conversely, if the club is unconvinced that Schneider’s short-term numbers indicate long-term success (see Steve Mason, Andrew Raycroft and Jim Carey), they could take Schneider to arbitration, sign him to a reasonable one-year contract, monitor his performance as a starter, determine his true value over the course of the season, and then negotiate a long-term deal before July 1, 2013. The flexibility afforded by this option should mitigate any risks or doubts pertaining to Schneider.

By comparison, Luongo is 33. His consistency, at times, has been questioned. While his cap hit of $5.3M is not unreasonable, it extends for ten more seasons. Very few teams would be willing to take on that contract. Even fewer teams would be willing to surrender significant assets for it.

Luongo’s deal was tailor made for this incarnation of the Canucks. It enabled them to have an elite goaltender at a reasonable cap rate during their limited Stanley Cup window. It should come as no surprise that Luongo earned a Vezina nomination and went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in the first year of the deal. In short, the contract made sense for the Canucks. It may not for another team.

In terms of salary cap relief, moving Luongo would actually do very little. In 2011-2012, Luongo and Schneider combined for a $6.2M cap hit. Moving Luongo means a long-term deal for Schneider, likely in the range of $4M-$4.5M annually. Add $900K for Eddie Lack and your relief is $800K to $1.3M. Not exactly a shake-up.

Perhaps most importantly, Tim Thomas and Mikka Kiprusoff may also be available this summer. While Thomas is 37, he’s one year removed from the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophies. He’s entering the last year of his deal at a cap hit of $5M. Conversely, Kiprusoff is 35 and has two years remaining at a cap hit of $5.8M. In other words, neither player comes with significant financial risk. Moreover, in 2011-2012, both Thomas (59 GP, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV%) and Kiprusoff (70 GP, 2.35 GAA, .921 SV%) played more games and had better numbers than Luongo (55 GP, 2.41 GAA, .919 SV%). Though all three goaltenders offer the prospect of immediate success, their contracts suggest that Luongo is the least attractive of the bunch.

Ultimately, Vancouver’s problems are not in net. The team scored four goals in Cory Schneider’s three playoff starts. They’ve scored 16 goals in their last 12 playoff games. Ironically or not, goaltending is the organization’s greatest strength.

And that’s why moving a goaltender makes sense. But it only makes sense if it addresses the team’s offensive woes. Moving Luongo for a bag of pucks or a bad contract does not take the team from Game 5 of the opening round to Game 7 of the finals.  It actually sets them back. And if this team is not getting closer to the Cup, they’re moving further away.

If the team was building for the future, Schneider would be the guy. No question. But the Canucks are not building. The pieces are already in place. And that’s why moving Schneider for a young forward is the only logical course of action. It’s the only ace that this team has left to play.

Because really, if this team can’t win with Roberto Luongo in net, they have far bigger problems.

 

jay@cavemag.com

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About the Author

Jay Adams
Jay is the West Coast Editor at CAVE Mag. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate from the University of British Columbia. He works as a corporate lawyer in downtown Vancouver.




 
 

 
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6 Comments


  1. Michael

    If you think the Canucks aren't building for the future then they need to ice the best possible team next season. Which is with Cory in net, period.

    In addition, you neglected to mention Luongo's 3 (THREE) epic playoff meltdowns. Stats are great, but the reality is that this player hasn't performed up to his potential in the playoffs since 2007. A total of 5 seasons.

    Luongo is good. Schneider is better.


    • mark

      you're right about the playoffs point of view and that should be the reason to trade Luongo.Schneider will get them to the playoffs,maybe no presidents trophy but that doesnt mean shit when the playoffs start.


  2. Jay

    Hey Michael – thanks for reading and providing feedback. Much appreciated.

    Feel free to e-mail me to discuss further. It's easier than talking over a message board.

    jay@cavemag.com


  3. Tyler

    As much as i agree we should trade schneider (schneider+raymond for nash ?) we cant because we have 0 cap space, in reality it would make more sense to move luongo and free up lots of cap space so we might be able to bring in one or two good players. No doubt columbus would take schneider and raymond an maybe a pick for nash, and that would be ideal for the canucks, but we cant cram nash under the cap.

    I say we trade luongo to tampa where he wants to go, get teddy purcell or whatever assets we can get, and use those assets + raymond and try for nash or another high caliber goal scorer. The reason for trading raymond would be to create a spot in the top 2 or 3 lines. The canucks have too many players that are potential second liners (raymond kesler burrows booth higgins, heck even hansen has been playing well) so we could afford to off load raymond.

    Sedin – sedin – nash

    Booth – kesler – burrows

    Higgins – pahlson – hansen

    Lapierre – malhotra – extra

    Schneider – lakk

    Thats a cup contending team right there if i do say so myself.


  4. Paul

    Jay;

    This is a well reasoned argument- a rarity when it comes to Canucks discussion. I am in your camp when it comes to what the Canucks should do: Schneider will be a great goalie for years to come, but the Canuckers were built to win the cup now. Luongo is an elite goalie with an elite contract, and as pointed out, was paid such that he would be the Canucks's elite goalie for their window. Canucks' 'Schneider-issue' is a problem of riches; if the window is now, Schneider needs to be traded for the best player for this window.

    Luongo has been and is a great goalie, but was made the 'escape- goat' (zing) of a team decimated by injuries in last year's cup final. The cup final is different with Hamhuis, two-legged Kesler, and two-eyed Maholtra. I always think, had the Canucks re-signed and avoided Ballard, Canucks would of won the Stanley Cup last year….hindsight, sigh….

    Your points with respect to the Sedins, are spot-on. Once the twins are gone, the window is closed. The prospect pool and current roster are not an elite team without them. It will be a few years, some good drafting and proper cap management to get the team competing for the Northwest title after they move-on.

    The claim of teams being consistent performers and building to win the cup every year is bogus. Detroit is used as an example of these consistent elite teams, but with Lidstrom at 43, Holmstrom, Zetterberg and Datsyuk on the downslope, it is very hard to see where their cup pedigree is coming from. They have good players, but their window to win has since passed with the current roster.

    So yes, in agreement, move Schneider, try for the cup with the current team with the current roster (a tweak here or there), celebrate, and then build the team for the next window.

    Great article, I am now a reader of your blog!


  5. Seb

    Smart, smart, smart article and analysis. I agree with you. But I'm afraid the Canucks will have to think of Luongo's career and the fact he's been hammered by critics. Now Luongo may not want to be there anymore which changes the game…



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