WDYTT: Is Roberto Luongo the greatest goaltender in Vancouver Canucks history?

Stephan Roget
6 months ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that will be with you to ring in the New Year 2024.
Speaking of rings, Roberto Luongo is set to enter the Ring of Honour on December 14, which may or may not be the day on which you are reading this.
Obviously, there was a very good chance that this week’s column would center around Lu. But in which way?
We considered reigniting the debate over whether or not Luongo should be headed to the rafters instead of the ring, but figured that was going to erupt on its own.
We considered asking for favourite Luongo-related memories, but reasoned that those are going to naturally bubble up all week.
We considered asking if his contract sucked, but Roberto himself answered that question firmly enough years ago.
Luongo’s overall greatness is not in any doubt. He’s a Hockey Hall of Famer. He sits fourth all-time in wins.
But his greatness as a Canuck will always be a slightly more complicated subject, and so that’s what we’re going to drill into today.
There are many ways to ask this question, but we’re going to try to phrase it as provocatively as possible here.
This week, we’re asking:

Is Roberto Luongo the greatest goaltender in Vancouver Canucks history? Yes or no, and why or why not?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

What is your ‘performance review’ of the first two years of GM Patrik Allvin and Co. at the helm of the Vancouver Canucks?

You answered below!
A GM’s tenure should be measured on the team’s yearly results, ‘cause it is unbiased. So far, it has been mediocre, but the changes he has initiated off the ice will take time to mature, just like his picks. His approach has been refreshing, but he has also made a few very familiar shortsighted type moves, which keeps the team in the medicore middle. But inheriting a mess and working for Francesco has to be considered as context in his grade…
Working under this ownership gives important context to the grade. I think Allvin and Rutherford deserve a B+.
They have drastically improved the professional scouting, which was awful under Benning.
They hired the right coach for the team.
They get an A+ for their management of Abbotsford.
The only thing preventing me from giving them an A is that Allvin’s communication to the market is bad. Rutherford is good when he speaks, but neither speak to the market enough. I would also add the Boudreau firing probably brings their grade down a bit, too.
defenceman factory:
It’s difficult for Canuck fans to gauge how good this front office is compared to other decent front offices around the league. There is a long list of reasons why this front office is better than the previous one.
While there has been a few minor trades which turned out poorly and there is a difference of opinion among fans, overall the trades have been for fair return with no tragedies. The FA signings last off season were solid value. Too soon to grade the drafting and development but all of that seems to be going reasonably well. Miller’s contract is the only one they have written with potentially long-term negative impacts, but currently is excellent value as he sits second in the league in points.
It’s also too early to gauge how well they establish a vision, hire coaches to enact it, and inspire players to achieve it. Two weeks ago, most would have given management a glowing review here but the Canucks are getting outplayed and out coached with some regularity lately.
Overall, I believe Management has done well above average to date. I also think there is justification to be optimistic they will continue to improve the team and the atmosphere around it. I tend to think the two women AGMs are doing their jobs well, and have more than proven they are so much more than equity hires despite what a few misogynists tried to convince us of.
The next nine months will be the proof for the pudding. Can they avoid ownership pressure to push in too many chips for playoffs this season? A first round match-up against the Kings looks likely and not promising. Can they get their two big RFAs locked up? With cap space finally available, can they use it to assemble a contending roster for next season? Can they maintain synergy between management and coaching in doing so?
I’m not into letter grades, I prefer a more non-committal system that leaves things open for interpretation. Thus my overall grade is ‘Lukewarm.’
Several pluses so far. I liked the draft of Willander, albeit this may be more of a credit to the scouting team, but good on the PA regime if they are creating a team dynamic when it comes to the draft. Some may say that Willander was a reach, but RHDs are expensive and the reason the Canucks don’t draft these players is because they do not reach for them and end up paying dearly later.
Also a plus that so far contracts have been pretty reasonable. Miller is paying off so far and Boeser is playing well. Soucy has looked good too.
Now what brings me back to lukewarm. Aside from Hronek, who was a terrific addition, really the only other significant addition to this team has been 39-goal scorer Kuzmenko. He is in a funk and that falls squarely on the coaching staff. I hope Team PA calls out the coaches to learn how to coach this talented player to his strengths, as opposed to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Management shouldn’t allow coaches to run talent off of the team.
Mikheyev was a big add, as well, but is not blowing anyone’s socks off with his play. He is a speedster, but I am questioning his offensive acumen a bit when I see his playmaking decisions on Pettersson’s wing.
Also lukewarm are the long list of players being added to this team. The Canucks have become the Island of Misfit Toys to a degree by taking on players who would be waiver fodder for someone else. These guys have been serviceable NHL players, i.e. Lafferty and Friedman, but are not really making the team a lot better. Joshua is probably the one guy that does stand out as a positive add from this group, because he adds more value than simply being just a guy.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Given the mess they inherited, I can’t see any reason not to be impressed with the way they’ve reshaped the roster. The next series of moves (this TDL and offseason) will be the right time to assess their overall vision for the team, but for now I’m pretty happy with their body of work. They’ve managed to get deals done in a very quiet time for the league overall, and have made incremental improvements to the roster without a bunch of long-term commitments. I can best sum up the difference between this regime and the last by noting that I’m no longer terrified when I hear the team has made a move. That alone is cause for celebration, but the next step is to raise the bar.
pauli in the great white north:
Given the team was at the cap, with some bad contracts and little on the farm, PA has made some good progress IMO. I wouldn’t have done the Hronek deal, his biggest so far, but he is trying to improve and win at the same time and that isn’t easy.
I’d give him an A- for his work so far.
His big job lies ahead and it is what to do with EP?
Gotta give him a B. Has made the team better thru multiple small moves. No big home run swings, and strike outs, like the previous regime. Although the jury is still out on Kuzmenko.
Allvin certainly is doing a better job as General Manager than his predecessor. But given that a rancid turnip could run an NHL franchise better than Jim Benning, that comparison is hardly flattering.
At the end of the day, the minimum bar for success as an NHL GM is making the playoffs. Under Allvin’s leadership the Canucks have missed the last two playoffs. So, by the objective measure of wins and losses, Allvin’s tenure has not been a success.
Less objectively, Allvin’s treatment of both Bruce Boudreau and Bo Horvat was shabby and positioned the team for failure last season, the Dickinson trade was unnecessary and a waste of draft picks, the jury is still out on the drafting of Lekkerimäki, and who knows how the Tocchet/Kuzmenko feud will end.
On the plus side, Allvin has greatly improved the team’s cap situation, he’s made honest efforts to improve the Canucks’ defence and penalty kill (although both are still works-in-progress), and he’s shored up the team’s backup goaltending and bottom-six forward group.
But, a franchise that tolerated Benning’s underperformance for far too many years simply can’t afford to stick with another three time loser. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs this season, the Canucks should move on from Allvin.
The internet has spoken.
Reg Dunlop:
The Allvin regime has hit the ground running and they have made several key moves that have turned things around. Some of the assistants working behind the scenes are paying huge dividends, as well. Their work on accurately working their cap is paying off and we have seen Canucks begin to take advantage of other team lack of cap space.
Rex Rider:
I give him a C+.
Hockey Bunker:
Done a good job patching holes on a temporary basis through crafty trades
The real test is are Canucks on a path to successfully develop its own players to become a Stanley Cup contender?
That is to be seen. The Abbotsford pipeline looks promising but hasn’t proven to be franchise changing yet.
That is what we need to watch in the next couple of years.
Correction of the Benning years takes time. Given the restraints of the cap, the Rutherford/Allvin team has been close to brilliant. This team should easily qualify for the playoffs, which they were given no chance of doing by all the preseason prognosticators. They are not a Stanley Cup contender, but I think the expectations at this point of the season is that not only should they qualify for the playoffs, but also they should be able to make a decent run, at least winning the initial series, but probably more. If that is achieved, then the turnaround by this management team must be considered close to the all-time best performance season performance from a management team. If they can continue to deconstruct Benning and pay for all his errors again next season, they will be a serious Stanley Cup contender.
52 years on…..and on…:
I have mixed feelings about this management regime and so will go with a C. They have clearly identified many of the significant shortcomings of this organization and have taken steps to remediate them.
Heavily invested in player development and coaching.
-Added some decent talent to the farm system via free agency.
-Added some size to the NHL roster via free agency and trade.
-Identified “accountability,” “culture,” and “structure” as chronic problems.
To Be Determined:
-Drafting: Lekkerimäki and Willander must hit. Brzustewicz could be a steal.
-Tocchet: Is he a long-term fit here?
-Short-term view. Determined to win “now” when the organization and roster clearly does not have the capacity to achieve this goal. This has led to the inability to manage the cap more effectively than they have AND the necessity to engage in trades that have resulted in high draft picks being expended. While this has improved the team in the short-term, this will IMO prevent them from building an elite roster in the long term. One can argue that the current roster demanded these upgrades, but if the goal is to win a Cup, the long-term approach is the only way to go. The more assets one accumulates, the better the roster, the more flexible the roster becomes (trades) and the bigger the window to compete.
In a nutshell, they are doing what Benning tried to do, but in a much more successful way. However, I still don’t see a Cup coming to Vancouver out of this.
Craig Gowan:
Given the state of the team, and the contract commitments left to him when he was hired, I think Allvin has done a good job. The current poor value contracts on the team are all Mr. Benning’s doing: Myers, Garland, Poolman, and OEL’s payout cap hit.
I personally have no problem with the Miller contract. The market requires such a contract term to keep a star player like Miller. The AAV will decrease in terms of team cap % as it ages and the salary cap increases. He’s second overall in scoring. I appreciate that Miller won’t necessarily be good value in year 5, 6, and 7 of the contract, but we’ll have to see. Some older players (e.g. Crosby, Paveski) remain good into their late 30s. They definitely made the right choice keeping Miller rather than Horvat in my view.
Allvin’s tenure started by being stuck with a coach he did not select. He and Jim Rutherford did not distinguish themselves re: their public statements about Boudreau while Boudreau was coach. In the end though, I think Allvin hired the right coach. In terms of player acquisitions, most of Allvin’s trades have been wins. Veteran free agent signings have been good players at good value. It appears they’ve done well at the draft, although it’s impossible to judge for several years yet. Most of all, I am delighted that when Allvin acquires players by free agency or trade, the vast majority of the players have actually turned out to be good players, on good value contracts with short terms. That is new in Vancouver.

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