Roberto Luongo?

If the Edmonton Oilers aren’t thrilled with Devan Dubnyk’s performance as a starting goaltender, does it make sense for the club to pursue Vancouver Canucks starter Roberto Luongo?

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The Pros

Roberto Luongo is an excellent goaltender. Over both the last three and the last five seasons he has averaged a 0.930 even-strength save percentage, which represents elite level performance – it’s better than any other Canadian goaltender, and slightly better than Henrik Lundqvist (the gold standard) over the last five years, slightly worse over the last three. Luongo is a top-flight starting goalie.

Because of his contract, the trade cost for Roberto Luongo would likely be low. With the salary cap falling, and the potential for multiple starting-calibre goalies on the market this year (Ryan Miller, Mike Smith, Marc-Andre Fleury, etc.), Vancouver will be in quite a bind if they cannot move Luongo. It’s impossible to know, but this feels like a situation where a package centered around Ales Hemsky might get the job done – the cap hits are comparable, and while Hemsky isn’t a perfect player he would add some badly needed secondary offensive support behind the Sedin line.

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Moving Hemsky for Luongo would also free the Oilers up to use Devan Dubnyk as a trade chip. Dubnyk is an average-ish NHL starter on an affordable deal ($3.5 million for one more season); to the right team he would likely have more value than Hemsky. A deal like this would allow the Oilers to upgrade their goaltender while upgrading their principle trade chip at the same time.

In the short-term, this hypothetical scenario seems both plausible and favourable to the Oilers. But what about the long-term?

The Cons

Firstly: Luongo has a no-trade clause. He has emphasized time and again that his chief goal is simply to be a starter, so maybe he waives it because he’s low on options and doesn’t want to get stuck fighting with Cory Schneider for playing time again. On the other hand, he’s spent most of his career in warmer places; it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that he would refuse to go to Edmonton.

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Luongo just turned 34 years old; he’s in the wrong end of his career and his performance is going to decline. He might start slowing down in two years, or it might take five, but at some point in that window he will likely need to be replaced.

The contract: Luongo is signed for the next nine seasons. For the sake of argument, let’s assume he retires as soon as the dollars start dipping, in the summer of 2018 (the far end of the two-to-five year window mentioned in the last paragraph). If that happened, any cap benefit accrued would count against the clubs that gained it for the remaining four years of his contract. The “cap benefit” is the difference between dollars paid and cap hit in those seasons, with that benefit divided equally over the remaining years. In this scenario, both the Oilers and Canucks would be on the hook for penalties over the four seasons following Luongo’s retirement, as shown here:

“Benefit” is calculated simply as dollars paid minus cap hit; with a 2018 retirement the Oilers would be staring at a $1.73 million cap hit penalty from 2018-19 until 2021-22. That’s a non-trivial penalty, but with the salary cap likely to be significantly higher by then, it’s also one the Oilers could likely afford to sustain.

The Verdict

In the long-term, the chief fear is that Luongo’s performance falls off a cliff two years from now and that he stubbornly refuses to retire because he’s still getting paid. If he continues to play well, he has a modest cap hit and the penalty for his eventual retirement is survivable. If he falls apart two years from now and retires, the Oilers will need a new starter but they’ll have gained a small cap benefit that will turn into a tiny cap penalty over the following seven years (less than $400,000 per season). But, if he falls apart and then refuses to retire, the Oilers would be in serious trouble.

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How great a risk is it? Really it depends on the individual. Here’s a (subjective) look at some of the oldest goaltenders in recent memory, and when their performance slipped:

Sometimes it’s a straight line drop off a cliff (Dominik Hasek), sometimes it’s a few years of ups and downs with a generally decreasing performance (Martin Brodeur) and sometimes the goalie retires at the top of his game (Patrick Roy). I’d guess that Luongo probably has three to four more years as an above-average NHL starter left in him, and then another year or two where he can still play but isn’t what he was.


Don’t forget that it’s not too late to play StreakCred – the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Now it’s only $10 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

Recently around the Nation Network

Over at NHLNumbers, Rex Libris asks Who Are The Edmonton Oilers Best Scouts? Here’s how he describes his process:

I am looking at the Oilers’ prospects taken between 2008 and 2012, the Stu MacGregor era, grouping them according to region drafted, and then grading them based on a variety of rankings including Lowetide’s top 20s, Hockey’s Future, Corey Pronman at Hockey Prospectus and giving weight to LT’s oft-cited preference for players with a “wide range of skills”. In some cases players who have made the jump to the AHL/ECHL may be ranked ahead of those still playing junior and those who have signed professional deals are ahead of those still unsigned.

 Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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  • Interesting article Willis

    I would do this deal if I knew it could benefit the Oilers in the long run.

    If there a deal that could strengthen the Oilers position Mac-T has to look at all possibilities, the days of dithering have to be over.

    **-This is just a scenario and not expecting this to happen just what thinking outside the norm.

    What if you trade for Luongo, then to trade him and a package of players/prospects to Tampa Bay for Tampa’s 3rd overall pick and one of Lindback or Bishop?

    The Oilers can retain some of Lou’s salary, making Lou attractive; Tampa Bay gets an elite goalie plus the Oilers 7th overall and a prospect/player’s.

    The Oilers get Bishop and the third.
    Of course, what players would be involved is up for debate.

    I only mention this because it’s right there with what Mac-T has said in some “semblance of risk”, the Oilers were after Bishop before, and Mac-T mentioning of MacKinnon- Barkov has to be taken at some face value.

    Bobby Lou get’s closer to home.

    Whatever the cost is for the 3rd overall pick, try finding an established two way elite center out there, the cost would be horrendous, IMO this is the time to make a deal.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Gotta hand it to you Wes, that’s thinking outside the box. Luongo may prefer Florida though. The Panthers have that Gudbranson kid, as well as that second overall selection. Erik could turn out to be Shea Weber jr. One or the other would be fine by me. Even let them have a player or two from the Oilers available basket as well.

      That could be an option, flipping Luongo to where he wants to go for half price. This is amusing, spending some of Daryl Katz’s cash.

      • True enough, the Panthers could very well be a target, I was just spit balling, but there is some truth in what young Willis was saying.

        I like your idea equally as well, Lou could be used as a very good chip to dangle.

        I like the idea of maximizing assets for the best return.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Would cost some serious coin, but it would allow the Oilers to buy themselves an impact player or two.

          Perhaps even the Canucks could kick in some salary to help put and end to this saga. Hemsky and a second rounder for Roberto and a little financial persuasion.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I like it,have always thought Hemsky would look good with the twins,if he can’t bring his A game with them it’s not going to happen.If you could turn Hemsky and the 7th into Bishop and the 3rd that works for me.

  • To start, I will say I think Roberto Luongo is a very good goaltender. I think the city of Vancouver (& their media) is doing their best job to ruin this guy. But I think he’s very good.

    That said, there is no way in hell I would trade for Luongo so long as he has this contract. There is just too much risk involved for me. I think he’s a better goaltender than a lot of people in Vancouver though.

    I think the Oilers could benefit from a solid goalie like that though, but with all the debate on whether a team really needs a good goaltender these days, I think I’d look elsehwere… something a little more short term, at least.

    • DSF

      I’m not sure the Canucks and Oilers would trade with each other but Luongo, Alex Edler, Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond all may be available.

      I would try a trade of Hemsky (which offsets Luongo’s cap hit) Marincin and Paajarvi to Vancouver for Luongo, Burrows and Edler.

      The Oilers upgrade in goal and on D and get a pesky top 6 scorer to play on the second line.

  • MacTavish has so many areas to address. That guy is going to be a busy man this year. I have no idea how many holes he’ll be able to plug before the season starts though, so I’m betting we’ll have a weak D to start the season too. But with Marincin and Klefbom in the wings, there’s some promise in a few years.

      • Funny though, you’ve been saying that about our drafted kids and look at the return so far.

        So Brodin by all rights should be rookie of the year, and most scouts consider Klefbom to be the better defensive player.

        Marincin has played pro for two years and has been progressing just fine.

        Why would you not think that both players would not be able to come in and at least take Potter, Pekham, Fistric or Whitney spot?

        I call that progress, promise and an upgrade.

      • Not sure how you interpreted what I said as two guys that have played 0 games are going to save the franchise.

        I said those two guys (that have played zero games) would be promising additions *IN A FEW YEARS*. And that wasn’t a factual statement, I was saying there was promise of them making an impact, meaning there is potential that they would be good additions to our D.

  • YFC Prez

    Precarious position for Oilers . Not enough in money or length of contact for Dubbie . The question is still out there , as to whether they are going to go ahead with him as first goalie . I think MacT. just confirmed that scenario .

  • Why not ask MacT. the definitive question ? How does he hope to compete in the NHL with Gagner , Hall, Eberle , Hopkins , Yakupov , and J.Schultz when rest of club and prospects are unlikely to make them competitive enough to make playoffs ?
    Next year we are going into the Albatross division with wingspans far greater than ours . These boys can’t grow fast enough . They are giving up a lot of size in a league that plays more like in a closet . How is he going to surround them in order to be competitive ?

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    Oh man, DSF! I was just lightly keeping up on your posts and thought that the funny “I’M RIGHT NO MATTER WHAT!!!” posts were ending. I was fearing a more “here’s my opinion, but your opinion is ok too” DSF was going to emerge. Or maybe a “my opinion doesn’t matter because I have no influence on NHL GMs” DSF was going to haunt us. I almost had to read through old articles to catch some of your hiliarious routine. I’m glad that you haven’t actually changed. Who would keep us all entertained with these awful articles that ON writers put up? (ON writers, I really actually like the articles).

    Keep the jokes coming!!!

    I love you, man! *HUG*

  • OutDoorRink

    My only problem with acquiring Luongo is that I couldn’t stand the guy until he was left twisting in the wind in Vancouver. I felt sorry for him and he seemed to handle the whole situation like a pro and made some funny tweets.

    My fear is that we pick him up and he reverts to the old Roberto. The one that even the Vancouver fans couldn’t stand to listen to.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Gillis shot himself in the foot with not wanting to take on half of Luongos salary when offered with a trade last season, that is the only way any team that is interested, will want Luongo.

    Even though I think Lou would be a better mentor for DD than Khabby, and if he accepted that he’d get maybe 40 games a season with the Oil, I dont think MacT wants to go that route again after seeing what happened with Khabby.

    As someone said earlier in the comments build the defence up better around DD then see what DD can do.

    Sign Emery please.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        I dont think Lou has any injury history either, I just think MacT might be scared off by a mid 30s goalie with a huge contract, and getting closer to the down spin in his career.

        • I get that, and by no means am I really on the loungo bandwagon. I just think Khabby’s injury history was a big part of the problem. Lou I see as one of those guys who could play longer in life. Especially as hes had a few years with not too much mileage put on.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Good point, like I said Lou would be a better mentor for DD and if he was willing to play 40 games or so I wouldn’t mind him coming here…but would his wife!? lol could always sell her on the biggest mall in the world.

            Lou+half his $ for Roy or Bunz, Peckham, and one of the 2nd rounders this year.

  • horndog77

    As usual, you make an excellent argument, backed up with numbers.

    But I disagree, so I’ll try to make a non-numbers-based argument against trading for Bobby Lu.

    I think the biggest problem that I’d have with trading for Luongo is that the Oilers would essentially be helping get the Canucks off the hook. I remember an old saying I read somewhere – if your rival/enemy is in the middle of making a bad mistake, never do anything to disrupt it (I’m sure it was phrased more elegantly than that).

    When the Canucks signed Luongo to a way-too-long, way-too-much-money contract, everyone else in the hockey world knew it was a bad move, 30 seconds after it was announced. Since then, it’s been a long, slow-motion slide to where we are right now – the Canucks have a goaltending controversy and an albatross contract and they’re desperate to get themselves out of both.

    I suppose that means that they’re ripe for the picking, but I’m not sure if I want the Oilers to be be the ones solving a major problem for them. If they’re twisting, let them twist. If they’re heading in the wrong direction, don’t do anything to take them off of that path.

    Further, I’m definitely against trading Hemsky for Luongo. To be more precise, I’m against the idea of helping a team the Oilers could conceivably end up chasing for a 7th/8th playoff spot over the next few years. Maybe Luongo coming back makes the Oilers better; but what if Hemsky makes the Canucks better yet?

    Yes, I know – that’s the risk you run in any trade. But I’m just not interested in helping the Canucks solve two of their problems while attempting to address a situation on the Oilers that we don’t even know is a problem or not.

  • Like it or not I believe MacT. is looking for more of a reflex efficient goalie and Luongo fits that sort of goaltending . By reflex type goalies you could also classify Fuhr and Moog , not to mention Kipper in the past , Quick , Fleury , and Miller . Dubbie is questionable here and I think it shows in shootouts . Efficient puck handling reflex goalie on our shopping list ?

  • CaptainLander

    Gags and 1st overall to St. Louis for Bergland and Halak.

    Oil Get
    Second line center, bigger 2 way(ish) center and a good goalie tandem

    Blues Get
    A players that may lead this team in points and a hell of a good prospect