Strombabble: Much Ado About Luu

Look ma, no photoshop!

What’s up with the never ending story that is the Roberto Luongo trade situation?

Well, Harvey Fialkov of the Florida Sun Sentinel has a double punch combo of "Luongo wants to be traded to the Panthers" content today. First he wrote a column about Luongo practicing at the Panther’s practice facility, the " iceplex" in Coral Springs Florida. Per Fialkov:

In a bizarre, slightly uncomfortable scene at Iceplex Tuesday morning, current Panthers goalie tandem Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore were beginning an informal practice with several teammates just moments after estranged Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo had finished his own skate.

Luongo has made it clear that since Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis promoted goalie Cory Schneider to starter with a three-year, $12 million contract extension, that he wants to be traded to the Panthers, the franchise he established his All-Star credentials with from 2001-06 and back to an area he still maintains an offseason residence with his wife and two young children…

[The Panthers] makes sense for myself, for my career and my family,” added Luongo, who still has 10 years at $5.33 million per remaining on his deal. "That being said. There’s obvious other options as well. This is a preferred location for obvious reasons but I’m not shutting the door on other possibilities if it comes up.”

Read on past the jump.

While that’s undeniably awkward, it’s not that unusual for a player who is "property" of another team, to practice at a rival NHL club’s practice facility during the summer. Coyotes holdout Kyle Turris, for example, skated at UBC with members of the Canucks during the fall of 2011.

If anything is imminent anyway, Luongo’s agent Giles Lupien is playing it close to the vest:

Fialkov then posted this video, somewhat misleadingly titled "Luongo wants to play for the Panthers," over at the Sun Sentinel’s website. Here’s a transcript of Luongo’s quotes from the video. Notice how he goes out of his way to stipulate that he’s not exclusively fixated on taking his flowing locks to South Beach:

 "It’s been a bit of a rough summer not knowing what’s going to happen, the only thing to do is keep working and getting ready as if we were about to commence another season, there’s a lockout and my situation ahead of me and I’m just going to take it one day at a time and make the best of it and just enjoy the moment."

"Yeah both of my kids were born here, we live here in the offseason and it’s a great area. But this is definitely one of the destinations."

– That would be high on your list?

"Yeah of course, it’s definitely an option that is up there – I’m not saying it’s the only option – but it’s definitely one of them."

So what does all of this tell us? Frankly none of it tells us anything new, but I love that Luongo snuck a "one day at a time… and enjoy the moment," into an early September web-interview.

That the Florida Panthers are Luongo’s preferred destination is a poorly kept secret, and we’ve known that the Canucks have been haggling back and forth with their Panthers "farm team" about a potential Luongo trade for months. Of course, Luongo ultimately does have a full no-trade clause so any trade he’s included in will have to meet his approval, but at the moment, Luongo is not publicly saying that Florida is the only option.

Meanwhile in other Luongo speculation emanating from Florida, Jose Theodore told the Miami Herald last week that he thinks CBA uncertainty is holding up the Luongo trade. Are you buying that? Because I’m not.

Allow me to build a metaphor in order to illustrate this. On my West coast Vancouver vacation this past week, I noticed that "For Sale" signs in front of big houses on the West Side of Vancouver are now as, if not more, prevalent than sushi restaurants. 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. So far this summer, the Canucks haven’t found that. It has nothing to do with the CBA, and everything to do with their asking price.

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.

Yes, Luongo will have to approve any trade, but even on that end the Canucks hold a fair bit of the leverage. It’s pretty well known that Luongo would prefer to play in Miami, but I’d bet that being an every day starter in the NHL is higher on his priority list than playing for his old Panthers club is.

  • DCR

    I took it as him saying. “Sure, I’d love to live in the same house year-round.”

    As for the practice bit. Isn’t it kinda normal for an NHL player to practice at the rink closest to where they spend their summers?

  • Nice article!

    The difference between the Vancouver real estate market and the NHL goalie market is, Gillis has a monopoly. At any given time, there is inventory in the Van housing marketplace. But there isn’t in the ‘proven goalie’ market. Buyers have options in the housing market. Buyers looking for a proven goalie don’t – there’s only Luongo.

    Gillis is right to hold on for the right deal. Keeping the asset does not hurt his team as witnessed by a 2nd straight P.T and 1 season removed from winning the Jennings. If he needs cap space, there are a couple of invaluable $$/per cap hit contracts he can offload (namely Ballard).

    But I’m sure he’d prefer Luongo to stop making waves via media. He didn’t really say anything new, but he’s kicking dust up in a sandstorm. He should ‘make like Nash’ and keep quiet.

  • “It has nothing to do with the CBA, and everything to do with their asking price.”

    But don’t you think that if they sneak a ‘buy-out’ or an ‘amnesty’ clause into the CBA, that suddenly the asking price doesnt seem as outrageous to a team like Tampa Bay for example? And maybe thats what opens up the market and finally gets a Bjugstad on the table…

    • Mantastic

      Amnesty will not help you trade Luongo, amnesty is a one time opportunity to buy out a player without having the cap hit, so how would that help a trade to TBL and get Bjustad? It will only help by alleviating Vancouver ‘s cap situation and Luongo will sign with Florida for pennies and Vancouver will get nothing.

  • Although I agree with Gillis’ approach to this issue, I’m a little concerned that if the cap drops to whatever, $60m next year that Luongo’s contract will suddenly become that much harder to trade (as Vancouver will be in a position where they MUST sell to get under the cap)

  • @fish hook interesting. Perhaps that could be an unintended consequence of the current atmosphere of uncertainty, but I don’t think that’s part of Vancouver’s calculation. Pretty sure that if the front office had got an offer they had found acceptable, they’d have taken it.

  • @Mantastic this all depends what an amnesty in the NHL CBA looked like.

    It could theoretically, make Luongo a more attractive asset since it could mitigate the risk of his endless term for the team acquiring him. It’s a stretch, but it’s not off the reservation.

    I seriously doubt the Canucks will get a Bjugstad for Luongo, but I’d bet they manage to get a useful player, a prospect and a pick for him.

    • Mantastic

      you think they will have the option to use whenever they feel like it? I’m sure they will have a very small window in which they can use the amnesty clause, maybe a year or two at most. And why would a team like Florida or TBL use it on Luongo? why would they spend all that money to alleviate cap when they don’t have cap problems and don’t make a lot of money to begin with?

      that’s why it makes no sense why the amnesty will help anyone out besides the canucks. which again is terrible asset management because he will just sign with Florida after.

  • KleptoKlown

    The part about the Panthers alleged interest in Lu that has never made sense to me is the actual dollars on his contract. His 5.3 millions cap hit is quite decent for what you’re getting, but he’s actually making 6.7 million. A cash heavy team like the Leafs would be able to float the extra money paid out, but the Panthers? Add to the fact the Theodore and Clemmensen seem to be capable of holding the fort until Markstrom is ready, and a Lu to the Panthers trade screams illogical.

    Only scenario I can see is that Tallon and co don’t have faith that Theodore will repeat last seasons numbers. Theo has been a Jekyll and Hyde goalie his entire career.

    Question is, do you give up a top prospect like Bjugstad for a goalie who WILL get you 30+ wins when you already have a goalie who MIGHT get you 30+ wins?