First off, like to apologize for my 2 year absence from hockey blogging. I’ve been way too busy with work and family, but now that things are under control, I am back! Hope readers are still interested in what I have to say.
This is an interesting time to be back. It’s a little bit like what the league is going through at the moment, trying to get fans back from their CBA fiasco. My apology, similar to what many GMs’ been saying, is to the fans of this blog. It’s been a prolonged stoppage, hope you will still have me back in your lives.
Anyways, enough about that, let’s get right to it.
Before I start, I have to say that Luoi has been such a professional about all this, ever since the first day he expressed his willingness to waive his NTC. All the interviews, the repeating questions about how he feels and all the BS, Roberto handled all that with grace and dignity. Of course Schneider has been saying all the right things as well.
The trade rumors kicked up another notch yesterday with Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole reporting a quote from Gillis, this is what MG said:
“We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have – and it’s not who anybody thinks it is – and so we have to wait. (But) we’ve been offered packages that don’t fit what our plan is, what we need”
Of course, the first reaction most of us have to this quote is why is Gillis saying this? He’s been tight-mouthed about potential suitors, why all-of-a-sudden this disclosure? Why now?!
The easier explanation is that he or Luongo is getting impatient, a few more sub-par performances from Luongo will greatly hurt his stock price. If Gillis wants to sell, he should probably do this sooner than later. I think that the Canucks are expecting Cory Schneider to play well, and if the team has a legitimate chance of competing for the cup, he will probably hold onto Luongo until the summer, whether they win the cup or not.
Telling everyone that a deal is coming, especially with a “Mystery Team” is a way of pushing Toronto (or whichever team is actually in discussion with Gillis) to quickly up their offer, so a deal can be done. Note that Gillis has been telling everyone that he has never consider absorbing Luongo’s cap via trading back a heavy contract from any potential teams, because Roberto is an All-Star who deserves every penny of his hefty contract.
But of course, there’s the other possibility of Gillis telling the truth. The Canucks ARE close to a deal with a team outside of the most reported rumors, namely the Maple Leafs, the Panthers and the Flyers. If we believe Gillis, then we should analyze what he said, especially about this “Mystery Team” having to “do something with another player that they have”.
What does “Something” means? Since the 23-man roster has been set, this can only mean (a) Trade, (b) Waiver or (c) Sent Home. So by looking closely at recent transactions, we may be able to find more clues.
(1) Blackhawks acquiring G Henrik Karlsson from Calgary for a 7th rounder.
This can be meaningful. Ray Emery’s $1.15M contract will be up by the season end. If Chicago is going to fit Luongo’s $5.3M Cap Hit, they will most likely not renew with Emery. If Chicago is to make a trade, I think Canucks will be looking for a goalie in return. Let’s say if Crawford is one of the piece going back the other way, this will leave Chicago with non-NHL calibre back-up goalie going forward.
Perhaps trading for Henrik Karlsson is not just an AHL depth move, but rather a preparation for backing up Luongo in the future.
I predict a deal might be there if:
Roberto Luongo ($5.33M)
3rd Rounder 2013
Corey Crawford ($2.67M)
Dave Bolland ($3.37M)
2nd Rounder 2013
Both Crawford and Bolland have one more year on their contracts. This move doesn’t really help Canucks in the long run, except moving the salary. But in the short run, they’ve downgraded their G for the C position.
(2) Devils signing Zajac to 8-year contact of $46M.
This transaction is a week old, you say? True, but this extends further. With Adam Henrique out with a wrist injury, this signing was significant beyond the surface. Could Lou be planning a movement within his centermen, hence locking down his No.1 C for the long term.
Henrique has tons of potential, and was carrying the team why Zajac was injured last season, why did Lou Lamoriello feel he needs to sign him to the max length allowed in the new CBA?
Could the Devils be this “Mystery Team”? We know that Lou built his team from back to front. The all-star goalie has always been the heart and soul of any Devils team. With Future-Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, turning 41 in May, looks to retire next season, AND Johan Hedberg turning 40 in May, New Jersey are in much need of finding the No.1 Goalie for the next decade.
Gillis is very similar to Lamoriello in his ability to create diversion make trades outside of anyone’s expectations. Perhaps, Gillis is referring the “something” to be waiting for Henrique to return from IR, so the Devils can trade him? If so, coach Peter DeBoer recently said his star forward should return within 10 days.
I predict this deal will work for both teams:
New Jersey gets
Roberto Luongo ($5.33M)
Jordan Schroeder ($0.994M)
Adam Henrique ($0.846M)
Johan Hedberg ($1.4M)
With this, Vancouver gets a high-end talent Center who is young (22 yrs.old) and can play in most situations. Henrique proved that he’s a playoff contributor last season as well, something the Canucks have always lack. A solid veteran backup in Hedberg, one who can offer experience and advice to Schneider without seriously threatening him. Hedberg is familiar with the Canucks organization, as this will be his second stint in Vancouver.
New Jersey will get their next “Broduer”, or at least a top 10 Goalie in the league. They also get younger with a first round centerman in Schroeder, with excellent offensive upside. The center position will be (1) Zajac (2) Josefson (3) Gionta (4) Schroeder.
This deal might involved some salary going back Vancouver’s way, or the Devils may consider buying out Brodeur’s last year contract by season’s end. New Jersey can fit Luongo within the 70M ceiling this season, it’s next season they are worried about.