In wake of news that the Leafs have been talking with the Miikka Kiprusoff camp, it’s being reported Mike Gillis has reached out to Dave Nonis in regards to Roberto Luongo.
To say the well of interest has run dry for the Canuck netminder, would be a serious understatement.
With Ottawa’s number one goalie Craig Anderson set to return any day now, Ben Bishop’s name has been tossed around in trade rumours. The asking price for Bishop would seem to be lower than Luongo’s in both assets and salary cap hit. However, Bishop is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, which may have teams wary of dealing for his services on the trade market.
On the other hand, teams in search of a top-notch goaltender will likely opt for waiting it out until free agency opens up this summer.
Mike Smith out of Phoenix would be the biggest name on the list and should lead the field with his phenomenal performance last year.
With that being said, Toronto is more than likely the only team still interested in actually trading anything for Luongo’s high price tag. Vancouver General Manager Mike Gillis is feeling the pressure and, especially since the need for a centre has been filled with the Derek Roy acquisition, thinks realistic negotiations can take place with Leafs GM Dave Nonis.
With the goalie market on the verge of opening up, the hopes of moving Luongo in exchange for really valuable assets is becoming wishful thinking. With the Leafs talking to Kiprusoff, expect the price for Luongo to drop significantly.
Oddly enough, the money situation isn’t the issue for Toronto. Kiprusoff’s salary is only $1.5 million for next season, yet his cap hit will be north of $5 million. The only real difference in dollars between Luongo and Kiprusoff would appear to be the contract length.
The price for Luongo will only go down throughout the day. A possible package, as reported by ESPN Insider Pierre LeBrun, could include Clarke MacArthur, who has become less of an impact for the blue and white this season.
MacArthur is a great character guy in the locker room, as is Luongo. He could be the key to the possible deal and would make sense for Toronto.
However, the acquisition of Luongo would likely mean the end of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens in Toronto. They’ve proven to be NHL-caliber goaltenders and would look for the first exit sign, being in their mid-to-late 20’s.
Roberto Luongo would probably make the Leafs more of a contender than Miikka Kiprusoff would, but the question for Leafs management has to remain, do they believe in Reimer-Scrivens? If they do, they probably don’t trade for Luongo. If they don’t, a trade for Luongo makes a lot of sense.
Despite all the risks and rewards Toronto will have to weigh in regards to a Luongo deal, the pressure has now switched to Gillis and the Canucks to get something for their gold-medal goaltender.
The end result? Nonis has a history with Luongo during his stint in Vancouver and the price may simply get too low to refuse.
So do the Leafs make a deal for Luongo or Kiprusoff by the end of the day?
The more likely scenario would be Toronto keeping the current group together and seeing what they can do in the post-season.
This may be the best option because Nonis really doesn’t know what he really has in his team. The impressive season should make him curious as to what they’re capable of doing in a playoff run, then make adjustments accordingly.
If a deal is to be made for either goaltender, the Leafs will wait to see the best price for Luongo, which will come in the last minutes before the deadline.
Toronto has virtually no pressure to make a deal. For both Vnacouver and Calgary, there are no realistic trade possibilities with any other team. This gives Toronto the ultimate veto in whether either goaltender moves.