Dreger: “I don’t think Luongo will Report” if he isn’t Traded this Offseason

Screen cap via Justin Bourne.

In the immediate wake of the explosive Roberto Luongo to the New York Islanders rumour proferred on Twitter by Bob McKenzie on Thursday afternoon, McKenzie’s TSN colleague Darren Dreger joined Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons on Toronto’s TSN 1050 sports talk radio station to further flesh out the topic (you can listen to his segment here). 

Darren Dreger has been especially bearish on Roberto Luongo’s trade value throughout this saga, and while that’s bothered some Canucks fans (who like to bring up Dreger’s familial relationship with Dave Nonis as a reason to be skeptical of his reporting), it’s tough to argue that Dreger’s perspective on this process hasn’t been completely vindicated by the events of last summer, last season, and the trade deadline.

On Thursday, Dreger suggested that Roberto Luongo wouldn’t even report to Canucks training camp if the team failed to move him this summer. Dreger further opined that even though the Islanders "make some sense" as a Luongo destination, the latest rumour is "more the Vancouver Canucks angling, trying to create, invent a market" for Roberto Luongo’s services.

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Read past the jump for more.

Let’s unpack some of Dreger’s comments and then dive into it with some further analysis. Off the bat he addressed the absolute, firm need the Canucks have to move Roberto Luongo this offseason, and suggested that the Islanders have been among the mystery teams referenced by Mike Gillis throughout last season (and last summer):

"What we know is that Vancouver cannot survive another season, or another offseason, with the same type of situation with Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo.

So when you heard Mike GIllis over the course of the year continually feed us the diet of "no there are other teams", y’know, maybe Garth Snow and the New York Islanders were one of those teams that was nibbling. Maybe they saw a fit there with the transfer of contract, when you make a deal like that you’ve got to move out a bad contract and take a bad contract."

Of course Roberto Luongo has a "bad" contract (in that it’s a difficult contract to move, his performance is obviously full value for 5.33 million against the cap annually). But no matter how bad his deal is, that sordid piece of paper is at least tied to one of the two goaltenders in the NHL who consistently posts an elite even-strength save percentage season after season. Roberto Luongo is also outrageously durable, which is a key part of his actual hockey value

Rick DiPietro just doesn’t have a "bad" contract in the same way Roberto Luongo does. Luongo’s contract is onerous, DiPietro’s is a complete sunk cost. DiPietro has been abysmal when healthy, and he’s rarely been healthy. I get that it’s tempting to group these two deals together because of the length of term, but beyond that the comparison is nonexistent.

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Dreger went on to list teams with a potential need (including the old "Luongo destination front runners", the Leafs and the Panthers) before dropping the "Luongo won’t report" bomb:

"So if Mike Gillis and the management group can make (an Islanders trade) work, good for them, becasue the bottom line has to be remedying the situation.

You can’t have Luongo and Schneider back together – I don’t think Roberto will report! Honestly, I don’t. I think (Luongo’s) done in Vancouver and whatever situation is put in front of him, he’s going to accept."

This sort of matches what Mike Gillis has said in the past. One way or another, Luongo won’t be back and that’s the one thing that all sides appear to agree on.

The prospect of Luongo refusing to report seems to be a somewhat realistic one, I’d think, if the Canucks really are unable to move the player. (Though if the team is willing to eat a contract the size of DiPietro’s, and that’s a 24 million dollar question, then it’s a slam dunk that they’ll be able to move Luongo somehow). Way back in April, Iain Macintyre described the mechanics of how a Luongo hold-out would work:

If Luongo is serious about escaping his contract, he can withhold services, which would allow the Canucks to terminate the deal. But the team would first have to place him on waivers, meaning Luongo would have no input on where he plays and could be claimed for a fee of $125.

Look, if the Canucks aren’t willing to accept an ugly deal in return for their netminder then I could realistically see the waiver hammer being brandished. I’d be very surprised if it came to that, however.

Finally, the prospect of a Canucks trade including Roberto Luongo for Nino Niedereitter was broached. Quoth Dreger:

"The Vancouver Canucks are in such a pickle right now that if they can get [Nino] from the Islanders, then Mike Gillis should be a candidate for Executive of the Year…

There’s so many managers around the game that continue to tell me if this drags into the offseason, which it will, that Gillis is going to have to pay to move Roberto Luongo…

Do you get a prospect that still has that level of potential for Roberto Luongo? I don’t think you do unless you’re giving up something else in return"

Now here’s where I strenuously disagree with Dreger. Nino Niederreiter is a talented, power forward who has demanded a trade from Long Island in the recent past. Niederreiter has no record of success at the National Hockey League level at this point in his career.

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I just find it difficult to believe that a disgruntled prospect like Niederreiter could possibly have more value than turning 24 million in sunk costs into a useful – albeit similarly priced – asset. But hey, that’s just me.

You can listen to the audio of Darren Dreger’s segment here.

  • UkeeRob

    I think Canuck fans need to accept that irrespective of Lou’s excellent career and elite save percentages pretty much every single year, he’s either going to be given away or a bad contract will have to be taken back in return.

    The fact that Ray Ferraro, one of the more rational and analytically familiar voices in mainstream hockey, didn’t have Luongo on his preliminary Team Canada roster speaks volumes.

    The value of Luongo within the industry is lower than how the analytical community values him.

    Which is another way of saying Mike Gillis is going to give away an undervalued asset (Luongo) while keeping the guy with massive trade value (Schneider).

    It’s almost as though Gillis read ‘Moneyball’ without actually understanding it.

  • BrudnySeaby

    The whole Luongo situation is one of the reasons I could have seen Gillis getting fired. A new GM could re-evaluate the whole goalie situation and decide to keep Luongo and move Schneider. That is if Luongo would be open to that. And who knows, he might have been under new management and coaching. Alas, Gillis is still here and so Luongo will go. And in Schneider, unproven for a full season’s workload, we trust! (Don’t get me wrong, I like Schneider, his talent and his mental toughness in how he shakes a goal off!)

  • BrudnySeaby

    I really would like to know just where Dreger got this nugget of info from, as it seems like he’s just supposing, as opposed to actually analyzing. To suggest that Lou would go from being the pinnacle of professionalism to refusing to report, while understandable, is a large stretch, I’d like to know where he’s getting this information from.

  • BrudnySeaby

    Oh man, who’s looking forward to a summer of Dreger trying to skew the market for Torontos benefit? This guy is hilarious, has been this whole time. I actually think he has a slight obsession with Luongo. He really needs to get over that.

    The day Canucks take Dipeitro for Luongo straight across- will be the day I see pigs fly. Why wouldn’t they take a $24M buyout contract when they can waive him for nothing? Some team would pick him up on waivers. It’s laughable.

    • BrudnySeaby

      Bob McKenzie first mentioned the Dipietro scenario.

      We don’t know until the trade/buyout actually goes down. But considering Gillis has yet to move Luongo, I think it’s time to consider the possiblity that Luongo has negative trade value.

      In other words, I think there’s a good chance nobody would claim Lou if he were placed on waivers.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I really don’t understand this. I think we saw this playoffs that schneider and luongo are interchangable. One is not better than the other. If we need to trade one, and one has good trade value and the other requires you “pay to move him” how are we still talking about trading lou?
    Does that math not bother other people?

    • BrudnySeaby

      You are bang on. And it bothers the hell out of me.

      The idea of either giving away Luongo or some crazy buyout scenario that costs Aquillini $24 million is ridiculous. Even though I don’t really care if Aquillini loses $24 million unless it affects his ability to spend on the hockey team.

      As others have suggested, it’s one of the main reasons Gillis should be fired. A new GM can make the logical choice and trade Schneider for a quality piece to help the NHL team.

      Gillis can’t make that choice it would seem. He’s dug in so far that he only has one choice even if it is completely illogical.

      Just imagine if Gillis were to trade Schneider. Then the question will be asked: why was Schneider not traded at the 2012 trade deadline to improve the team in front of Luongo?

  • BrudnySeaby

    what happened to all the suggestions of trading for DiPietro and then using a compliance buyout on him? Or did you mention that and I just somehow missed it. I don’t think it’s too unrealistic to get both DiPietro and Niederreiter, then use a compliance buyout on DiPietro.

  • BrudnySeaby

    @ b

    I think the problem with that would be that Aquilini has to shell out $24 mln. now for buying out DiPietro. And then possibly more in the future if Luongo would retire early, even if he is on another team, as per the new CBA. I don’t know that he would like that…

  • @NM00 @owen here’s the thing: the cat is already out of the bag. Luongo is on his way out and Schneider is staying put, there’s no going back now. In terms of hockey value Luongo + a Schneider package > Schneider and a Luongo package, absolutely. By why agonize over something that, at this stage of the game, isn’t possible?

    • pheenster

      Because it is dumb?

      Because it has always been dumb?

      Because a lot of misguided people seem to be under the impression that our favourite hockey team has a good GM?

      Take a look at the transaction record; that is the equivalent of a GMs save percentage. It is the tangible evidence of how bad Gillis has been at his job. Let’s not pretend he is a “winning GM”. Gillis is a “winning GM” much like Fleury is a “winning goaltender”.

      In any other industry, a manager making a $20+ million mistake would be fired. And that’s what this very well could end up becoming. Gillis could have dumped the contract prior to the season but he overplayed his hand.

      And now, if Gillis has it his way, Luongo will join Michael Grabner, Cody Hodgson, draft picks for Ballard, Alberts, Bernier & Roy as completely wasted assets.

      I’m still holding out hope Aquillini steps in and tells Gillis there will not be a buyout or bad contract swap.

      As the great Gordon Gecko said, “management has no stake in the company!”

  • pheenster

    Darren Dreger needs to pull out a calculator and do some basic math.

    Follow the bouncing ball with me: what is the worst-case, ball-of-nuclear-fire scenario for the Canucks in this situation? Answer: they have to buy Luongo out themselves.

    What is that going to cost them? According to Capgeek, $1.5-million a year for 18 years. Now that is a long time to pay to renovate a guy’s boathouse on an annual basis, but what do they get for that huge slab of Aquilini-bucks? Relief from the cap hit, obviously. But if they buy him out, they also get freedom from any BS cap-reclamation penalty down the road. His contract is gone, poof, like it never existed.

    So why, I ask you, would they take a guy like DiPietro back straight across in order to get rid of Lu when their buyout costs are roughly the same and they get a greater benefit from buying him out themselves? If by “pay” Dreger means take back a smaller buyout hit like Komisarek, well maybe, but even that will have a price.

    And Yoshi (or whatever you’re calling yourself over here) the idea that Luongo would pass through waivers is almost as dumb as the idea that a different GM would be able to convince Lu that it would be a good idea to stay in Vancouver. That ship sailed quite a long time ago; Gillis bears part of the responsibility for that, yes, but so does AV and so (in no small part) does Luongo himself. To the waivers idea, one of the first teams to put a claim in would be (wait for it) the Islanders. Nothing Charles Wang has ever done has suggested to me that he has a problem paying his good friend DiPietro $1.5-million a year to clean his pool. This is a guy that paid Alexei Yashin (also a buddy) over $6-million a year to play in a different league (not to mention Tim Thomas a few million not to play at all), so I don’t think he has a problem buying RDP out. I think he’d just rather use Aquilini’s money than his own. That will, however, cost him a player or two.

    • pheenster

      Your Nostradamus-like ability to predict Luongo would not pass through waivers is meaningless. Obviously.

      To suggest Luongo would pass through waivers is to say his contract does not have negative value. We shall find out in due time. I would think if Luongo’s contract had value our GM would have traded him by now.

      For whatever misguided reason, you are placing far, far too much value into what AV does. He is a middle manager. If AV wanted Schneider and MG wanted Lou long term, guess what, MG wins. The goalie debacle falls on him as does all of AV’s questionable decisions such as Ballard. If MG didn’t like it, he should have set him straight or fired him earlier. As it stands, MG fired AV to cover up his own mistakes. So it goes.

      Finally, as to your suggestion that a new GM could not convince Luongo to stay in Vancouver if Schneider were instead traded.

      In case you were not aware, Luongo is not a free agent. The Canucks control his contractual rights for the next 9 years. Unless you believe Dreger’s “Lou won’t report” story (and I assume you don’t since you don’t trust Dreger), he doesn’t get a ticket out of Vancouver just because he wants one.

      Thanks for playing.

      • Mantastic

        I think there is a team that will make a dumb move and claim lou from waivers….they made some mistakes in the past that almost cost them the entire organisation and fans….flames….i think they need a goalie since they dont have a no 1 since kipper is done….lou will move anywhere to make a statement.

  • pheenster

    Also, regards Dreger: as correct as he’s been regards this whole mess so far, he also has a pretty significant personal stake in this ending badly for Gillis and the Canucks. If Gillis winds up turning Lu into an asset of some kind, at this point Dreger is going to look stupid no matter what he was right about in the past.

    • pheenster

      Dreger isn’t going to look stupid to anyone outside of the fans who seem to think his entire world revolves around making the Canucks look bad.

      Darren Dreger is respected within the industry. Which I’m sure he values more than an internet criticism.

      And Bob McKenzie first reported this Dipietro scenario. Is he in on the conspiracy as well?

      The reason Dreger has been on the mark this whole time is simple. Luongo’s value has been declining since the beginning of the season.

      Something one would think our “progressive” GM would have been able to figure out.

      But you know, it was a “weird season”. Almost as good of an excuse as the Canucks being too “emotionally drained” to play games after their regular season matchup with Boston in 2011-2012.

  • pheenster

    Oh hi Yoshi. How are you? Still cherry-picking arguments and knocking over strawmen I see.

    Explain to me why all 29 NHL GMs, several of whom are desperate for a semi-decent goaltender, would pass on Roberto Luongo (at a perfectly reasonable cap hit) for nothing. Make it an itemized list with all 29 GMs, please, including their detailed reasons. Also list which of those 29 GMs will still hold the same job 5 years from now when Luongo’s contract might cause them some pain. Finally, explain how that pain would be greater than the goaltending pain they’re suffering right here and now. I look forward to your response.

    I don’t think Lu’s contract smells like sweet red roses. I do think Gillis is lucky to still have a job. So I actually think we agree on a few things. Where we do we differ? I’m not an arrogant tool who thinks he’s god’s gift to the Internet.

    Thanks for playing, indeed.

    • pheenster

      I’d read over your first response before appointing yourself my moral superior champ. If you provoke, you shall get snark right back.

      As for this Lu-waiver thing, why don’t we just see how this plays out?

      As I said, “I think there’s a good chance nobody would claim Lou if he were placed on waivers.”

      As you said, “the idea that Luongo would pass through waivers is almost as dumb as the idea that a different GM would be able to convince Lu that it would be a good idea to stay in Vancouver.”

      So while I do think there is a good chance nobody would claim Lu on waivers, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if a team absorbed the entire contract.

      I repeat: acting that you know for sure a team would take on Lu’s contract is meaningless. Obviously.

      And, as I think we agree, giving away Luongo’s contract is terrible, terrible asset management.

      • pheenster

        The thing with waivers is that, if Luongo is claimed from waivers, the Canucks are on the hook for half of his contract? Do we really believe that no one would pick that up?

      • pheenster

        The thing with waivers is that, if Luongo is claimed from waivers, the Canucks are on the hook for half of his contract? Do we really believe that no one would pick that up?

  • pheenster

    @NM00, @owen, @Thom

    I think your Luongo-Schneider trade valuations underestimate the value of the extra years Schneider has left to play. While keeping Luongo and trading Schneider has greater short-term trade value, Schneider will likely have significantly more value 3-5 years down the the line – at which point, the Canucks could continue to use him as their starting goalie or they could trade him for what would likely be a significant return. The value that Schneider will still have 3-5 years from now, whether the Canucks keep him or trade him, definitely helps balance out the options.

    Without knowledge of the trade packages being offered to the Canucks and the ability to predict the future, it is impossible to say how close the choices are, but to say that keeping Schneider and trading Luongo is an “obvious” long-term losing proposition is stretching things a little bit.

    • pheenster

      There is no guarantee Schneider signs an extension in two years. In all likelihood, he would be amenable to one since most players are willing to sign extensions.

      But there is also no guarantee Schneider is a top goalie in 3-5 years. Goalies come out of nowhere these days and put up great performances.

      And, frankly, I don’t think building a goalie-centred team makes sense these days.

  • pheenster

    Has anyone even evaluated Luongo’s contract? I mean looked at it on CapGeek? Have a look..

    2013-14 $6,714,000
    2014-15 $6,714,000
    2015-16 $6,714,000
    2016-17 $6,714,000
    2017-18 $6,714,000
    2018-19 $3,382,000

    We know that Luongos cap hit is 5.3 mill per (a deal compared to many goalies of lesser talent). What do these numbers tell you? Well for one, that in 5 years time (max) his contract starts to look attractive to teams who want to reach the floor without spending to it.
    Following the 18-19 season, he makes 1 mill for the remaining years, and would likely retire by then.
    To think Luongo wont still be a very good goaltender through those years is laughable given his track record of consistency.

    If by chance, as Dredger hinted at, Luongo doesnt report, the Canucks can simply suspend him (without having to move him, or pay him, or have the Cap hit). That move nearly ended Nabokovs career. Hell, the Isles picked up Thomas (knowing he wouldnt play) just for his Cap hit.

    To be fair there needs to be a market in order for there to be a trade. Was Gillis perhaps asking too much during the summer, oh Im certain of that. But why shouldnt he try and get as much for a player of that caliber? He would have been hung out to dry had he given Luongo away for nothing, in the same way he is being strung up for not doing it. There were lots of reasons why it didnt go down at the deadline. Some teams who had the interest were on the outside looking in (Philly, Florida) and some had goaltending they felt was sufficient (TO), but to think there is no interest in a goalie who is better then 80% of the leagues starters as it sits right now, is preposterous.

    Will Gillis get Luongos worth back? No, he wont. But he will get more than some are claiming. If he does go to the Isles and the Aquillinis take back Dippy for a buy out, expect a pretty good return to come back this way, otherwise its not happening.

    • pheenster

      I’ve been saying the same thing all along! 2018-2019 season will be the point where Luongo’s contract will be attractive to teams struggling to reach the salary cap floor (anybody think that salary cap won’t be in the $65-$75 million range for the min/max respectively?). Hello, NY Islanders, Columbus, Carolina, Florida, Tampa, Phoenix? With the CBA structured as it is (ie. cap hit remains regardless of suspension, demotion to the minors or retirements), there will be a demand for front loaded contracts such as his. The million $ question is whether his performance can be sustained from 2014-2018. Nothing in life is for certain, but there is a good bet that he will be an above average goaltender (maybe not elite level) until then.

      • Mantastic

        you’re wrong about the CBA structure for Luo’s contract. if he retires Van is going to take some of the cap hit as well as whoever trades for him, not the whole cap hit.

      • Mantastic

        I’m not sure why its not mentioned more. It was an intentionally front loaded contract. The media make it out to be like his contract is a complete albatross, but the numbers dont lie. There are plenty of teams that would covet that contract towards its end, meaning whomever picks up Luongo is only on him for 5.3 for 4 or 5 years. So ask yourself, would you take Luongo for 5.3 for 5 years? I would think many a GM would be in consideration if a) it makes sense for them financially and positonally and b) what are they willing to give as a return.
        Given Luongos measure of consistency (the most consistent of his generation) there isnt much reason to believe that there will be a dramatic fall of in his abilities.

      • Mantastic

        I think Jesus will come back to earth before his contract expires…..he is comming soon and thats what the bible said….we are in the last days and vancouver will not win the cup.

  • pheenster

    Not to lend more credence to the Islanders rumour than it deserves, but I think even the rumour is being mis-characterized.

    The floated scenario is not Luongo for DiPietro straight across. That would, I agree, make no sense. The floated scenario is that with significant propsects/picks back to Vancouver as well.

    This would allow for a mini-rebuild or re-stock of the Canucks cupboards. This scenario makes some sense of the Islanders view themselves as a young team that can really start to a push deep into the play-offs (plausible) and have organizational depth at forward.

  • Mantastic

    so just to clarify…gillis mishandled the situation. so he will rectify that by further mishandling the situation.

    I don’t by any means expect him to right it – but you said “why agonize over something that at this point isn’t possible”

    I just think that it is possible. Just not likely as it would take an admission of guilt on the part of gillis, but if schneider is half the team guy that luongo is, he would say “hey, I’m a canuck and I want to help the team the best I can, so trade me!”

  • Mantastic

    There’s no doubt the Islanders are the best fit, but I agree Lu would still be a great fit for us if Schneider was dealt but unfortunately that ship is sailed.

    One has to wonder if Mike Gillis is on a very short leash, ie possibly lose his job this summer if he cant resolve this Luongo and cap situation. At this point Gillis just has to get whatever he can, and if waiving him or buying him out is his “only option”, wouldn’t be surprised if Aquilini layed the hammer down.

  • Mantastic

    Word is Gillis will have to trade a bad contract for another bad contact. It was inevitable. They could swape Dipetro contract and then get a good player in return. Reinhart, Niederreiter, etc. However, I can’t see Aquilini buy out Dipetro $24Mil. Gillis needs to talk to Dipetro, ask him to recend his contract in lieu of chance of backing up Schneider and he’s back in the NHL. But take say $1.7 mil salary for 7 years max. Which is repaying him about half what would of been $24 mil buyout. And if Dipetro is not convinced, I’d tell him if he preforms well as backup, maybe another team would trade and use him as No.1 while he serves his time in Van. Gillis was an agent, it came useless as a GM but in this situation, he needs to present himself as Dipetro’s agent, unoffically. If not, Gillis will be an agent by next summer.