In what was already an absurd, speculation filled week of hockey news, things really went off the deep end last night. Three separate reporters – Enrico Ciccone, James Duthie and Adrian Dater – all passed along some startling information: that the Philadelphia Flyers were interested in acquiring Roberto Luongo.
The Flyers have the quality young assets that opposing fans drool about (Coutourier! Brayden Schenn!) and a reputation as one of the league’s boldest (or most reckless, as you prefer) organizations – from the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades, to the Bryzgalov deal, to the Shea Weber offer sheet. Basically the Flyers represent something of a "perfect storm" for rumours and speculation; they might just be the league’s preeminent click-baitable club.
Of course, Paul Holmgren spoke with Frank Seravalli, and laughed off the reports as Broad Street bull-shit, though really that doesn’t mean much. Meanwhile, the Luongo speculation in my timeline has turned my Twitter feed into something increasingly indistinguishable from HFBoards (what’s the latest this morning? Oh wow, a three way trade!).
We’ll look into whether or not any of this passes a basic, common sense smell-test after the jump.
It seems to me that if we are to believe that the Flyers are interested, we have to assume that the Flyers organization has so completely soured on Ilya Bryzgalov that they’re willing to consider something drastic in order to replace him. Bryzgalov played with CSKA Moscow during the lockout, but he’s already back in Philadelphia gearing up for the season after leaving the KHL on New Years Eve. So he’s not one of those players seeking to slip the knot of contractual obligation and remain in the KHL like Kovalchuk and Visnovsky are doing.
Could the team simply have soured on Bryzgalov’s grating, flakey personality? It’s possible, I guess, and according to Slava Malamud that’s exactly what happened in Moscow over the course of the lockout. If Bryz has really paved his way out of Philadelphia with his talk of metaphysical concepts and space, then the Flyers are looking at a very expensive proposition. If Holmgren were to use an amnesty buyout on Bryzgalov next summer it would cost them a shade over 20 million (assuming the Flyers would have to pay 60% of his salary). All told, buying out Bryzgalov and acquiring Luongo’s contract would represent a roughly sixty-million dollar investment for what would be, essentially, a minor upgrade.
It’s the Flyers though, so you know, they’ve done crazier things in the not too distant past (moving two, quality top-six forwards to make cap-space and overpay a goaltender – for example). But this whole thing strikes me as a massive stretch.
Meanwhile, in commenting on the rumours and speculation, Darren Dreger offered us an interesting formulation:
Luongo rumor to Toronto won’t fade. Burke wanted him bad and Nonis will push as well, but Canucks insist other teams are in play.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 10, 2013
Note that Dreger’s implication is that the "insistence" that others teams are involved is coming from the Canucks. Dreger and new Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis are cousins, but I still think we can trust Dreger’s reporting on this. The point being that if it sounds to good to be true: it usually is.
Obviously if the Flyers are involved in Luongo bidding that’s great news for the Canucks. Even if they’re not, with the news out of Toronto and so many reporters hearing that there are other bidders in the Luongo-sweeps – Gillis’ chance netting the Canucks a return that goes beyond a replacement level young roster player, a B- prospect and cap-space in exchange for his star goaltender, seems somewhat more likely than it did earlier in the week.