NHL Trade Speculation: Toronto Maple Leafs Should Go Get Roberto Luongo

Jon Reid@@JonReidCSMCorrespondent IIJanuary 6, 2013

The NHL lockout is over:

A tentative agreement has been reached between NHL and NHLPA - source

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 6, 2013

 

Fans, players and owners alike are ready for NHL hockey to resume in the next two weeks, and already the talks surrounding Roberto Luongo and the Toronto Maple Leafs have begun.

Just hours after the lockout was resolved, TSN's hockey panel took to the air to talk about, among other things, Luongo potentially becoming a Leaf and how that would impact Toronto moving forward.

Well for starters, it would give the team one of the league's premier goaltenders, something it has lacked since the days of Ed Belfour before the 2004-05 lockout.

Luongo has only posted a goal above 2.50 once since the 2006-07 season, and his save percentage has never dipped below .913.

The main concerns I hear from fans who are opposed to picking up Luongo are the length of his contract and his $5.5 million cap hit, which could come back to haunt the Maple Leafs in the latter stages of his deal.

The problem with that notion is two-fold.

First, goalies and age shouldn't be a major concern, as most netminders are able to play for much longer than their positional counterparts.

Secondly, if you're worried about Luongo taking up cap space when he's 41, what incentive would he have to stick around?

By then, if he's a backup, he would only be making about $1 million.

Remember, the cap hit is not necessarily what a player makes, but the average per year in his salary.

If this were to be the case, I personally can't see a 41 or 42-year-old goaltender sticking around to ride the bench for a million bucks as opposed to spending time with his family in retirement.

His contract should not be an issue.

Not to mention, as it stands, the Maple Leafs are in a great position when it comes to cap space.

Heading into next season, where the salary cap will be fixed at $64.3 million, the Maple Leafs have just $41.5 million locked in according to capgeek.com.

That $41.5 million may only have 13 players locked up, but those 13 players are Toronto's core—guys like Dion Phaneuf, Mikhail Grabovski, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Nikolai Kulemin.

All that additional cap space will be used to pursue big-name free agents and role players to fill in the roster.

As it stands, Toronto is in good shape when it comes to cap management.

On top of that, the Leafs will have two compliance buyouts in their back pocket that they can use to free up even more cap space without taking any penalties.

This should ease the mind of those who are worried about Luongo eating up too much cap space.

At 34 years of age, Luongo is also an experienced goalie who knows how to help a team get to the postseason and win when it gets there.

He may not have a Stanley Cup to his name, but he has come as close as you possibly can and surely would love to silence his critics.

Another positive about Roberto Luongo in Toronto would be his durability.

Not only is he a consistent, but he has also played at least 54 games in each and every one of his full NHL seasons.

If Toronto is serious about ending its playoff drought, trading for Roberto Luongo would be crucial in taking another step in the right direction.

 

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