September 13 2012 03:02PM
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September 13 2012 12:39PM
Signing undrafted free-agents has long been a hallmark of Mike Gillis' tenure as Canucks General Manager. In the past Gillis has added young players like Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack in this manner, and usually the team signs at least one undrafted free agent per season.
So far this summer, they'd yet to dip their toe into the pool, that is until today when the Canucks announced the signing of puck-moving defenseman Evan McEneny to an entry level contract. Here's the official press release from Canucks.nhl.com. Click past the jump for more.
September 13 2012 11:52AM
The summer is at an end and through it all, Roberto Luongo has improbably remained with the Canucks. As the "one foot out the door" goaler met with the press on Wednesday, Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis gave the press a firey update on the Canucks' trade posture.
Read past the jump for more!
In particular, Mike Gillis was adamant about the team's refusal to sell low on Roberto Luongo, per Jason Botchford:
“We’re one of the wealthiest teams in the league, so we don’t have fire sales,” Gillis said. “Our ownership has been completely supportive in everything we’ve done. They are going to be completely supportive in this matter. If someone thinks we’re going to have a fire sale, they’re wrong.”
Gillis admitted the team has had some “solid” offers for the goalie, but not from Florida. The Panthers haven’t been in the ballpark, and have instead made proposals that were more about shedding salary than giving up assets.
Gillis' "fire sale" comments shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, or has any sort of intuitive feel for the way markets work. Gillis may not get a "retail" price for Roberto Luongo (though he would've been able to exact a retail price for Cory Schneider) but if he was willing to just liquidate this particular asset, the trade would've happened already. Just over a week ago, we dropped this extended metaphor:
Luongo is a 4000 square foot home in Shaugnessy, that has been listed for 6 months at a 3.5 million dollar price point.
This is what always gets me about those talking heads who like to claim that there's "no market" for Roberto Luongo. It's probably fair to characterize the market as soft (otherwise Luongo would've been traded already, and Nick Bjugstad would've been Canucks Army's number one prospect in the top-20) but the "no market" lark is unhinged.
That Luongo hasn't been moved yet reflects the fact that Vancouver's asking price is too high if their goal is to sell on Luongo immediately. But in hockey trades, and on the real estate market, all you ever really need is one person to like the asset enough to meet your demands....
But here's the rub: the Canucks aren't a homeowner looking to liquidate an asset, buy cheap elsewhere, and retire. As they've repeatedly said, there is no urgency on their end. Even as the CBA expires, and even as next season begins - Luongo and Schneider are both professional enough that the Canucks can afford to wait to get the right price, from the right buyer.
Nothing really has changed, and if anything, Gillis' ability to rely on Luongo's and Schneider's professionalism was reinforced yesterday. That didn't stop Gillis from brandishing his biggest remaining "hammer," however. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this quote, but I think Gillis dropped an implied threat regarding the possibility that the team might bury Luongo's deal in the AHL next season if Luongo won't agree to a trade with a team other than the Panthers (emphasis mine):
"Trade clauses allow the player, I mean that’s why they get them, and they are part of the negotiating process,” Gillis said. “He’s entitled to try and be selective."
"But at the end of the day, you are either going to play hockey or you’re not going to play hockey. We’re going to do our best to make sure Roberto is taken care of, whether he’s here or somewhere else. We’re going to look at his best interests, but also ours.”
But I digress, because the most interesting part of Gillis' original quote isn't the "fire sale" bit, nor is it his "you are either going to play hockey or you're not going to play hockey" statement. Those are the sexier soundbites sure, but the most interesting part of the quote is the portion where he reminds potential trade partners that, "[the Canucks are] one of the wealthiest teams in the league."
I find that quote interesting partly because Gillis reiterated that notion, albeit using somewhat different notes, on the Team1040 with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price yesterday as well (skip to the 49th minute of the podcast):
"We've had ongoing discussions with teams all summer long, I think there is a cloud over major transactions because of the uncertainty that's there. But no - it hasn't changed a whole lot in the last couple of weeks.
But I think there's clearly teams who have very different considerations when they're looking at acquiring players or giving up players. We don't have the same financial constraints that some teams do, so we look at it very differently and other teams can't look at it that way. So you have to actually understand that they're looking at what may come and may be hesitant because they want to see that before they do anything."
Is this "rich team, poor team" dichotomy a shot across Florida's bow? An indication that the equivalent of Rotislav Olesz isn't going to be enough to complete this particular deal?
I've never understood why the Panthers would be interested in Luongo, considering that they've got the best goalie prospect in the world in Jakub Markstrom; and Jose Theodore and Scott Clemensen stopped .926% of even-strength shots last season. But perhaps Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon, who I rarely give any credit, has stopped fighting with his fax machine long enough to identify "star players on toxic contracts" as undervalued assets on the NHL trade market.. Obviously that's what he did with Brian Campbell, and that worked out okay for the Panthers...
If there's any validity to my theory, then we can expect Tallon to be firm on his lowball offer. He's got two sufficiently reliable NHL goaltenders on his roster and a bluechip prospect, so he's dealing from a position of strength anyway. If this is also part of a larger philosophy for Tallon, then the goose that is Luongo's Miami dream may be cooked.
Luongo was compliant with the Canucks' orchestrated show on Wednesday afternoon, and he's continually said that he'd be willing to be traded to teams not named the Florida Panthers. Reading between the lines of some of Gillis' comments, I suspect that willingness could be tested, albeit not until the NHL and the NHLPA hammer out the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.
September 13 2012 08:52AM
Only a week ago, national sports media outlets were picking up on several sensationalized quotes that Luongo gave to Harvey Fialkov (who described Luongo as "disgruntled") of the Sun-Sentinel. South Beach may be Luongo's preferred destination, but when the Strombonian one met with the media yesterday he said all the right things and appeared to be handling a summer of speculation with grace and good humour. In other words: he was very much gruntled.
We recap media reaction to Luongo's public appearance after the jump.
Jason Botchford reads Luongo's poker face, drops a detail about the Canucks "prepping" Luongo for his media session, and describes the star netminder as "toeing the line":
"There may not be direct flights from Coral Springs to Vancouver, but there is a U-turn.
Roberto Luongo backed off his honest, edgy, outspoken offseason approach and portrayed himself as a good company man once again when he re-appeared in Vancouver Wednesday at the Canucks’ charity golf tournament.
After being prepped by Canucks’ staff, Luongo declined opportunities to discuss his desire to play in Florida, something he did just a few days ago. He distanced himself from comments he made earlier in the summer. He refused to say whether he’d accept a trade to Toronto, or anywhere else.
He added that if he started the season backing up de-facto starter Cory Schneider it wouldn’t be the end of the world... Even if you know he could see it from there."
Iain Macintyre marvels at Luongo's selflessness while noting that the greasily coiffed goalie's best efforts aside: any attempt to quash the rampant speculation and "just fit in with the team" will be futile.
"...In the unlikely event there is a training camp and Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is willing to go with a $5.33-million backup, Luongo said he'll report to the team for whatever role remains... He seems even better now than when he played.
"I have a lot of good friends on the team, even on the staff and coaching staff," Luongo told reporters at Northview Golf Club. "It makes it a lot easier to be here. That's why I'm here today. I didn't really hesitate on deciding whether I should come or not.
"There's no animosity whatsoever with Mike or the organization. We've been treated really well since the first day. Some-times these things take longer than others. I'm still playing in the NHL. I'm still playing with a bunch of guys that I love and respect. There's no reason for me to be frustrated."
So often perceived as a diva, the superstar who chose his goaltending coach and set his own schedule, Luongo said he is determined not to become a distraction. He will fail at that."
David Ebner of the Globe and Mail turns his focus to Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis. Gillis seemed to imply that there are some teams that seem to expect a new collective bargaining agreement to include some variation of an "amnesty clause":
Gillis has been accused of looking to get too much in a trade for a 33-year-old goaltender whose playoff performances have been erratic and who has $47.3-million (all currency U.S.) and a decade left on a contract with a $5.3-million-a-year cap hit.
“We’re one of the wealthiest teams in the league,” Gillis said. “We don’t have fire sales.”
Gillis, who also said he feels he remains in the Shane Doan lottery, said teams have been “pursuing us” for Luongo, and various scenarios have been floated. There is, Gillis suggested, the possibility of a multiteam trade. The collective agreement, however, is a problem, particularly because a new version might provide some amnesty on fat, long-term contracts.
“That has been part of the discussions that we’ve had with other teams, what if this and what if that,” Gillis said. “It’s impossible to predict what may be the outcome, so, you know, there’s some hesitancy on that front.”
Kevin Woodley observes that Luongo "didn't sound like the same guy who talked about waiving his no trade clause" in April. I suppose those prep sessions with Vancouver's media team worked wonders!
Luongo may not have played his last game with the Canucks. He didn’t sound like the same guy who talked about waiving his no-trade clause a few days after the season ended with him on the bench watching Cory Schneider start the final three games of a first-round playoff loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings. Or the guy who said, “it was time to move on” after Schneider signed a three-year, $12-million extension.
“Two months ago, after what had just happened and Schneids had just signed and I didn’t really see myself being here,” Luongo said in his first comments locally since the end of the season. “But I realized once we got into August that was a possibility and I was okay with that. Me and Schneids have a great relationship, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, so I’m sure that’s not going to be an issue at all. I am going to do my job, whatever that is, if I am here, and I want to do it well and do it to my best and just be a good team guy.”
Luongo seemed determined to prove it Wednesday.
Finally, News 1130's Scott Russell passes along that Luongo - and everyone else who follows the team - really didn't "see himself" being at Canucks training camp this fall. It also seems like Louie is getting sick of fielding questions about his trade status (and understandably so):
"Obviously, we all want to know what the future holds... but sometimes, these things take longer than others," said Luongo, who would not talk about any other teams that are interested, out of respect for his teammates...
Luongo, who continues to wait for a trade out of Vancouver, says that he is still in no rush to get a deal done and would be happy to start the season with the team if a trade can't be done in time. He adds Vancouver is home too, and its "not the end of the world being back here."
Asked about his comments earlier this summer in a Las Vegas radio interview that it was time to move on, he said that after Cory Schneider had re-signed, he didn't see himself being at training camp, but realized when he got into August, it was a possibility.
Luongo notes that he will leave it up to Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis to update the media on any future developments and that there isn't much to report.
September 13 2012 08:51AM
To say that the Vancouver Canucks players struggled to get up for every single game in the 2011-12 regular season would be accurate. The magnitude of a Tuesday night game against Minnesota simply doesn't compare to a Stanley Cup Final contest (sorry, Wild fans), and the Canucks seemed to meander through the regular season (for the most part).
There were several notable exceptions. Early January in Boston was a huge game for the team, as was a date with the Red Wings in late February.
Detroit had reeled off 23 straight wins at home, setting a league record in the process. At the time, they were two points clear of the Canucks in the NHL overall points standings. The league's best home team (Detroit) was facing the league's best road team (Vancouver).