Roberto Luongo: Trade to Maple Leafs Would Be Best Move for All Parties

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 11: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a save as Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on during the second period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Like all NHL players, Roberto Luongo has spent the entire lockout waiting to see what comes next. However, unlike his peers, he is still wondering even now that the lockout has ended.

The goaltender of the Vancouver Canucks is the subject of trade speculation and is likely to be moved before the shortened season begins. Jim Morris of the Toronto Star even reports that trading the goalie is a top priority for the team.

Luongo has been Vancouver's starting goalie for the past six seasons. However, he lost his job during the playoffs to Cory Schneider. The team is now likely to keep the younger Schneider as a player who can help for a long time.

In addition, his 12-year, $64 million contract makes it more difficult for the Canucks to keep him in a backup role.

Therefore, the team will look to make any move that could get the veteran off the roster. Luongo has a no-trade clause, but he should gladly accept any move that will allow him to return to a starting role elsewhere.

One team that could be a potential option is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The proud franchise struggled mightily last season, earning 80 points on the year and finishing above only four other teams in the NHL.

The biggest issue in recent years has been defense. The Maple Leafs allowed 264 goals last season, second-worst in the league. 

Jonas Gustavsson played the most games in net and finished with a goals-against average of 2.92. James Reimer was not any better with a GAA of 3.10. Considering Luongo's career mark is 2.52, he is certain to be an upgrade.

While both sides have denied that there is already a deal in place to send the veteran to Toronto, Mike Zeisberger of QMI reported that there is a lot of speculation and "where there is smoke, there is fire."

As for whether or not Luongo would want to go to the Maple Leafs, he said in a recent interview on TSN that he would consider it:

I'm going to keep my mind open about things and be willing to listen to what Mike [Gillis, general manager of the Canucks] has to say. I'm willing to do whatever is best for the Canucks, for myself and for my family. 

The trade would provide the three-time All-Star a chance to continue his career as a starting goaltender on a team that truly needs him. 

With the talent that the Maple Leafs have on offense, Luongo certainly has the ability to take this club to the postseason and beyond.

It is unknown what the Canucks would receive in return for this type of trade, but it would allow them to clear a lot of salary, which could be good enough on its own.

Combine this with the fact that Luongo and the Maple Leafs would be a perfect match, and this trade would create the perfect situation for everyone involved.