How many Luongo posts will we write between now and the trade deadline?
Based on our pace the past 24 hours, I’d set the over/under at 20.
Last night we pivotted off of a Damien Cox report which suggested that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks had resumed talks concerning a potential deal for Vancouver’s deposed starting goaltender Roberto Luongo’s. Today that report is being corroborated pretty much everywhere.
One of the corroborating reports was filed on Friday afternoon by Pierre Lebrun over at ESPN.com. Lebrun’s report is the most detailed and elaborates at length on the sour relationship between General Manager’s Mike Gillis and Dave Nonis, while also hinting that there are other a couple of additional clubs that have begun to chase Roberto Luongo just this week.
We’ll unpack Lebrun’s report in detail after the jump.
Here’s the meat of Pierre Lebrun’s report, which details how the talks resumed with Laurence Gilman and Cliff Fletcher acting as surrogates for their respective General Managers who don’t get along apparently:
Last week in Phoenix when the Canucks were in town there, Vancouver assistant GM Laurence Gilman met with his old pal and mentor Cliff Fletcher, senior adviser with the Leafs. Those two guys talk all the time but, on this occasion, Fletcher re-visted the Luongo dialoge with Gilman.
That conversation between Gilman and Fletcher sparked Vancouver GM Mike Gillis to follow up and phone Toronto GM Dave Nonis this past week to further explore those talks.
This in itself is a story because Gillis and Nonis, I don’t believe, have ever spoken to each other regarding any trade, as some ill-will existed after the former replaced the latter as GM in Vancouver. Usually it’s been other members of each front office communicating on Luongo, not Gillis and Nonis straight on. So that’s perhaps an important shift in this story.
That Mike Gillis and Leafs brass aren’t the best of friends – and that Laurence Gilman might need to be the point man on any deal between these two clubs – isn’t anything new. Jason Botchford told us as much the day before Brian Burke was fired by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. But I find it fascinating that Mike Gillis and Dave Nonis haven’t ever spoken to other regarding a trade, not even in the immediate aftermath of Burke’s firing…
LeBrun’s report continues with the obligatory Miikka Kipprusoff reference and then he drops this tantalizing little bit of scuttlebutt for good measure: "Two other NHL teams have also called on Luongo over the past week. Though how serious that interest is remains difficult to ascertain." Well isn’t that delicious. Wonder who the mystery teams are this time! Washington? Philly?
We could speculate on that endlessly but instead I want to spend a paragraph or two debunking something that seems to be widely believed. I find it very odd indeed that Miikka Kipprusoff keeps being mentioned in rumour reports as if he’s a comparable piece who would offer a team like the Maple Leafs much the same thing that a Roberto Luongo would. It’s actually preposterous.
Kipprusoff has a .889 even-strength save percentage through sixteen games this season – a very small sample size, of course. He’s dealt with injuries and is obviously a way better goaltender than he’s shown this season, but in the five seasons prior to the most recent lockout he posted an elite even-strength save percentage two-times (a .928 in both 2011-12 and 2009-10), a passable even-strength save percentage one time (a .919 in 2007-08), and a downright below replacement level even-strength save percentage two times (a .916 in 2010-11 and a .907 in 2008-09).
Luongo’s even-strength save percentage in fifteen games this season isn’t particularly good either (.917%) but the last five seasons his results have been uniformly outrageous – here’s the numbers from 2011-12 through to 2007-08: .929, .934, .925, .936, .929. So over the past five seasons Miikka Kipprusoff has been an elite goaltender about half the time and swiss cheese the other half of the time. Roberto Luongo on the other hand has been consistently elite. Basically the same player.
LeBrun again indicates that this deal will only get done so long as Vancouver’s asking price continues to drop and he’s not sure the Canucks will manage to extract that "third line centre" they’ve been looking for from the Maple Leafs. Yeah, because who would want to trade a prospect and a player on an expiring deal for consistent .929+ goaltending?
When you consider Luongo’s percieved value on the trade market – which appears to be negligible based on the way hockey’s most trusted "insiders" talk about him – and contrast it with his absurdly consistent success over the past five seasons, it becomes a lot easier to understand why Mike Gillis has refused to deal him up to this point.
Obviously Luongo trade chatter and speculation is heating up in a big way in the hockey media and that’ll probably continue throughout the weekend. But my thinking is beginning to go in the other direction. Everyone seems to think Vancouver’s asking price has to keep dropping if they want to consumate a deal and I’m not convinced that Mike Gillis is going to be willing (or should be willing, frankly) to swallow that bitter pill.
And anyway, when was the last time a guy with an "albatross" contract was moved at the trade deadline? Scott Gomez and Brian Campbell? Those guys got moved at the draft.
Read Lebrun’s full Report in full here.