For a few brief, merciful days, all the talk of a Roberto Luongo trade in the media had been replaced by talk of a goalie controversy in Vancouver. We complained about the hype, questioned what would actually constitute a goalie controversy, and scoffed at how Alain Vigneault giving a world-class goaltender consecutive starts while he’s on a hot streak could even be called controversial.
But really, it was a relief.
For once, we could stop the endless speculation about potential Luongo trade destinations, returns, and whether he would even get traded at all. Instead, we could focus on a rather pleasant problem: which of the Canucks’ two fantastic goaltenders should start each game?
Unfortunately, it couldn’t last. Eventually the rumour mill would start up again; this time around, it was kicked into gear by a visit by Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman to the Verizon Center for a game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. This, of course, immediately led to speculation from every corner of the media landscape that the Canucks were working on a trade with the Capitals, with Luongo the centrepiece. That included Sports Illustrated, who need to pay closer attention to their photo captions.
That is a screen capture from Allan Muir’s otherwise fine blog post from Sunday (and it’s worth noting that it probably isn’t the writer’s fault, but rather the web editor that posted it to the site). If you’re having trouble reading the caption, it says, “Could Robert Luongo be headed to Vancouver? A potential deal makes sense for both sides.”
Personally, I don’t think it does make sense.
As patient as Mike Gillis has been, he doesn’t seem the sort to be so suddenly hasty with this deal that he accidentally trades Luongo to himself. (Although Mason Raymond will tell you a paperwork error isn’t out of the question.) And Roberto Luongo might be willing to waive his no-trade clause to be moved elsewhere, but would he be willing to waive it come here? No one has asked him this question.
At the very least, having both a Roberto and a Robert Luongo on the Canucks would be a nightmare for the poor soul doing play-by-play, especially since he already has two Sedins to contend with.
It’s a pretty innocent, if inexplicable, error, but it’s particularly embarrassing given the general lack of coverage that hockey receives from Sports Illustrated in the first place. There’s a certain amount of schadenfreude from hockey fans when an entity like Sports Illustrated or ESPN screw up what little hockey coverage they do have. Actually, schadenfreude might be the wrong word. Is there a word in German that denotes incredulity, outrage, and laughter, combined with relief that they don’t cover hockey more often?
I may have gotten a little too specific.
As for Mr. Gillis going to Washington, it’s certainly intriguing to see the Canucks’ dynamic management duo scouting a team with two young goaltenders, neither of whom are asserting themselves as the number one starter. The Capitals have struggled to start the season and are 27th in the league in goals against per game. Michal Neuvirth is 24th in the NHL in save percentage, while Holtby is 38th.
So, the Capitals could conceivably be in the market for a goaltending upgrade and have a spare goaltender that could head the other way as a potential backup to Cory Schneider. Would they be interested in Luongo and also willing to part with what Gillis wants? That’s another question entirely.
The Canucks could go after the young, talented, right-shooting defenceman John Carlson, who was rumoured to be one of the targets in the Cody Hodgson trade, but the Capitals are unlikely to give him up. They might want the 22-year-old Swedish centre, Marcus Johansson, as many have speculated, who has no points through 7 games after putting up 46 last season. Then again, his underlying possession numbers are spotty at best and he’s questionable when it comes to faceoffs. Also, the Capitals probably still like his potential.
Could Brooks Laich be a target? He’s a big, middle-six centre that might be able to fill that third line role that none of Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre or Jordan Schroeder seem perfectly suited for. But he’s also a big part of the Capitals’ core. Would they be willing to part with him?
During the 2011 off-season, the Canucks reportedly made a contract offer to Joel Ward, who instead signed with the Capitals for a 4-year deal worth $3 million per season. Could they be interested in him again? Maybe. Maybe not. As a right winger, he doesn’t fill an immediate need, and $3 million is a hefty cap hit for a 32-year-old who scored just 18 points last season.
The Capitals had two first round picks in the 2012 draft, selecting Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson. Would the Capitals be willing to trade one of them to get Luongo? I sincerely doubt it, though stranger things have happened. Neither would help the Canucks this season, though either would improve the Canucks’ prospect pool.
Then there’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, arguably one of the best players not in the NHL right now. The question is whether he will ever come to the NHL, as he currently plans to stay in the KHL until after the Olympics in Sochi. Would the Capitals want to cut their ties and could the Canucks take a gamble? I have no earthly idea. I’m just asking leading questions in order to get your hopes up before they’re inevitably dashed.
All of this is just speculation at this point. Luongo might get traded to Washington or he might get traded to Florida, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Chicago. He might get traded during this current season or the Canucks might wait until the summer. I don’t know. None of the other writers speculating on the subject know either. It’s entirely possible that Gillis doesn’t know, as the right trade offer at the right time could change everything.
Or, maybe, Luongo will change his name to “Robert” and somehow get traded from Vancouver to Vancouver.
Okay, probably not that one.
Stick-tap to Jason Baker (@JBonCanucks) for the tip.Tags: Capitals, laurence gilman, Mike Gillis, Roberto Luongo, Sports Illustrated, this trade is never going to happen, Trade Rumour