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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Streakcred

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:

  • John Chambers

    It begs the question – why did they give Dubnyk $3.5 M, and why was he only signed for two years?

    If he has a strong season and the Oilers make the playoffs, Dubby could command $5M as a UFA, where as I’m sure a 4-year deal for $12 – $14M would’ve been attractive to the Dubnyk camp last summer.

    Petry & Halls contracts were very enlightened, while Gagner and Dubnyk’s were terribly shortsighted.

    • T__Bone88

      He was signed cause

      A)We needed a starting goalie
      B)And it was a good contract in case you want to move him.
      C)He’s a actually asset to the organzition that has value
      D)It gives the Oilers 2 extra years of free agency.

      Dollar and term were reasonable. He earned his contract this season, whether he deserved it before was debatable.

      • John Chambers

        DD is the answer in 1 blog, yet now he is the question in the next 1..?

        Interesting dynamic…

        But in saying that… PASS on Soccer~Lou.

        Why get anywhere near that SPC while you are a rebuilding Club..?

        PASS…

        x6

        • I think u want me to clarify? I think Dubby’s an slightly above average goalie who needs to be challenged. Is Luongo better? Numbers the last 2 years and playing status say no, however history and pedigree say yes.

          I.agree that Dubby’s not elite, but I think of him like Hiller, Howard, Elliotte, Halak, etc good goalies. Put Dubby in St. Louis and his save percentage would be .930 or better. Dubby’s question marks come from the fact he lets in soft goals once in a while, and does not steal you alot of games. I think the Oilers would better served with goaltending model with a 1 and 1a system with a 45-35 game split.

          Bring in Lou, your paying for the old Lou playing 65 games and a .925 average. If he can’t do that with what DSF calls the best defence in the NHL, hows he doing that in Edmonton. Don’t want to see us paying 5.5 for 9 years for average to below average goaltending.

          Goaltending needs to be better, but a solid backup who is is not a bandaid would go a ways to helping Dubby.

          Saving grace is Lou and his wife want none of Edmonton. Its the one time being the ugly duckling city may save our ass. Hopefully he doesn’t get the Heatley video and entorange of misfits.

  • I never would have seen myself saying this until two years ago, but Luongo has grown on me–even to the point where I think he’d be a great addition to the Oilers.

    The ‘Nucks won’t have any interest in Hemsky, but a trade centred around Dubnyk might be doable–Vancouver needs to she’d salary and get younger…….

    Perhaps PRV, Dubnyk, and a 2014 pick could get the job done. Vancouver dumps a contract, gets younger, and gets a serviceable 3rd liner in this trade. This scenario makes both teams better immediately. Throw in a prospect, Peckham, or whatever if needed.

    The way Luongo has handled himself over the last couple years in Vancouver has been admirable. He wears his heart on his sleeve and wouldn’t be a train wreck (a la bryz) to the kids. Slowly, I’ve become a fan.

    The best part about this trade is that Crawford might just be a flash-in-the-pan goalie. I could see his numbers dipping significantly after taking over. With DD as a back-up, the two goalie circus come right back to Vancouver. Furthermore, I think we’d get Luongo’s best game every time those Canucks meet up with us!

    DD is not the answer for the Oilers going forward–another reason I love this trade. Granted,, his numbers are good; however, he can’t keep the team ahead in a close game to save his life. When everything is on the line, DD becomes shakey, we want the opposite. Someone clutch in the stretch that the team can keep pressing is needed. This trade would make Edmonton a top-4 D-Man away from a playoff berth next year.

    • John Chambers

      Canucks fan?

      Mike Gillis would probably take a package of Ben Eager and Eric Belanger for Luongo.

      But I agree – the guy was Canada’s Gold Medal tender, has sustained strong performance, and has supressed his ego for the benefit of the team. Given that a team could reasonably be out from under the contract in 4-5 years I’d say the price was right.

  • DSF

    Hemsky,Horcoff and Hordichuck for Louongo,and the Nucks become a better team instantly,and much tougher as well with Hordichuck.

    Louongo wants to win man,lets get real,he has demons to vanquish at this point in his career.He would love nothing more than to step onto a team as set up as we are to dominate immediatly.He is well aware as is the entire NHL how close the Oilers are to breaking out in a huge way.If Louongo comes here he will trigger a prime d-man to demand a trade here as well because that is all we need to become immediate contenders.

    We already have the offense as inconsistant as it is to win enough games with Louongo in net to make the playoffs,he would have kept us in it this year in my opinion.

    The thing is this,once we iron out some systemic wrinkles,Dubby will look even better than he has,so we need to be very carefull that we dont jump the gun and screw with his head.Reality bites and no one in their right minds would turn Luongo away for Dubby at this stage of the game,the question is if Dubby is willing to play second fiddle for another three years?And then have a crack at the starters job,smart money says Louongo gets hurt a few times over 3 years and also takes Dubby into the playoffs finally to let him taste the pressure.Might be a reasonable dynamic for Dubby to accept honestly.I have never seen Dubby shrink from a challenge,he is a rock and will defend his opportunitys with passon and hard work.Louongo doesnt intimidate a man like that he would motivate him if anything.

    Its so hard to make calls on player aquisitions when you dont know the systemic intent you will be projecting,there are many variables to consider long term that are related to this influence directly and terminally.Just our system choice could exclude or include Louongo based on specific physical and mechanical stylistic tendancies.The same rule applies to defensemen and forwards if you reject statistical inputs and consider dynamic impact of consistantly executed systemic influences.It is fun to speculate but impossible to put any money down on these types of educated guesses.

    We could use Louongo and there have been talks for a long time.The reality is that we represent an opportunity for a very good Goaltender to take a starting job and lead a very talented team into the playoffs bang on in the middle of his prime playing years,this is a rare opportunity for Louongo not for the Oilers, the Nucks are re-tooling now,Roberto will need to be willing to make some serious concessions to the Oilers if he hopes to catch a ride on this runaway train baby,ditch that elitist no trade clause BS,lose the attitude,take a traditional Goaltenders spot in the room,shaddup and relax and learn to be yourself and simply be a good teammate and role model,tell some dam jokes you are a funny guy when the bullcrap is gone,no pressure and no room to be melodramatic,just room to be a valuable piece of a Stanley Cup winning team.

    I dont think Roberto has ever been in a position to play relaxed, I believe he was mismanaged for the bulk of his career and his personality wasnt respected enough by the teams he played on,he was put in the wrong positions at the wrong times.He should have been muzzled for his own development early in his career and he wasnt policed properly,so he evolved to carry to much pressure internally and never really relaxed out there as much as he could have over the years.Ralph likes to pull tenders who arent on their games and I like that habit,Louie would be in a totally new world with Mac-T and Ralph.I am thinking Mac-T is the mentor a man like Luongo requires at this point in his career.

    I like the dynamic if Louie is willing to become a new man and new type of teammate,I see a lot of adjustment he must make to fit in here right now,he definately isnt a primadonna on this roster he has nothing to prove here,we are LOADED with superstar kids and no one will even notice him here,this isnt Vancouver with the sedins on the downward trend being the catalyst of the team,this is the Edmonton Oilers and there are multiple catalysts here that are just beginning their careers.This is a career opportunity for the right man,one worth making long term concessions to lock up.No one probably wants to see Luongo here than the man himself.

    • YFC Prez

      Luongo was in a position to play relaxed in Florida. He played his best hockey IMO when he wasn’t in a fish bowl like Vancouver. I doubt he would be relaxed in Edmonton, and if he would have nothing to prove on the oilers I wouldn’t want him anywhere near here.

      I am not entirely happy with Dubnyk, but I would like to see what he does with the same D that Luongo has played behind. Keep Dubby and see what he does when the blueline improves.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Why dont you think he would be relaxed here?There is no pressure on him to be anything more than a starting goaltender and Dubby may be able to give him a chance to act his age finally and become more of a mentor than a center of attention.

        I agree that reservations need to be considered,he would have to make a serious play to mac-T and he would need to make specific guarantees regarding his motives and intent.But Roberto is an overtly emotional person to begin with so I doubt he would waste anyones time one way or another.

        I am happy with Dubnyk,the only hitch i saw last year was his being exposed to the midrange wristers badly and getting caught down almost every time,teams were preying on his mechanics and our system didnt react fast enough,there was a period where he recovered nicely ,but teams had marked him already and he was hit over and over.There were systemic issues that resulted in that midrange shot being available so often that we sewed up late in the year when our defense finally started standing up aggressively to stop the o-zone transitions high on the blueline.

        I really like the transitional defense we were using last year,but i forsee a stand-up style coming and this will change our approach to the neutral zone drasticlly.

        • YFC Prez

          I don’t understand how Luongo playing starting goal with Dubnyk as Backup behind one of the worst D squads in the league would lessen the pressure of playing 1B with Schneider behind a much better Defence.

          Vancouver and Edmonton are both pressure cooker markets, Luongo would face the same pressure and skeptics in Edmonton as he did in Vancouver.

          This is my problem with Luongo, He plays better without the pressure on him, aside from one playoffs year in Vancouver where he was pretty darn good except for a couple of really bad stinkers. Oh and his contract sucks….but that’s another story.

        • YFC Prez

          Call it Fan optimism. Shultz Jr will get better. Whitney will be gone…addition by subtraction. And at some point MGMT has to add some new blood to the oilers D core…or D corpse as it has been.

          Really though how can’t the D get better ? I doubt it could be much worse.

          • DSF

            Sure it could get worse.

            MacT is counting on Klefbom to be his major addition on D.

            That could be a grave mistake.

            The Oilers need TWO top pairing defensemen, not another rookie.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            I don’t think he’s counting only on Klefbom. He’s high on him, sure, but that doesn’t mean that he’s content with him being the only addition. Why would you think that? Should Mac be talking about players on other teams that he is targeting?

          • YFC Prez

            I don’t think that MacT is counting on Klefbom to be his major addition. He has said that he is really impressed by what he sees and the swede will get a good look. He could make the big club next season or spend time with the Barons. The oilers need way more than another rookie addition.

            I agree with you that the Oilers do need 2 top D-men.

            I think MacT can get one this off season, even if he has to overpay on a short term contract. At least until he knows what he has in Marincin, Shultz, and Klefbom, Either way I don’t see the Defence getting any worse. It may not improve by much, but it will get better.

            MacT is going to be busy.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Could you please provide a source where MacT said that? That seems incorrect to me that he would be counting on Klefbom to be his major addition….

    • I read the first paragraph only. Why the Hell are we talking about trading any decent asset for him. He’s 2 years away from his last decent season, and any trade that saves the Canucks from impending destruction under the cap is assinine. I would not give up Horcoff for him. Many of us don’t want to entertain this stupidity because his contract is a killer and his perfornance doesn’t warrant us wanting to married to such an albatros. Let the Canucks suffer, and continue their slide to mediocrity, please…. I for one am enjoying the Luongo reality saga. Another couple years of watching this drama and then watching Gillis eat his contract is good TV.

      Secondly, many of think you have some decent things to say. But be concise, because it comes off as dribble because your trying to hard to make a point. Your point would be better with less words. I am no writer myself, my thoughts cone out to fast, but for the life me I can barely make it through your diatribes.

      • Hallisimo

        Amen. I skip over NewAge comments its almost longer then the blog itself at times. Surely he can get his point across in one paragraph.

        As for Luongo, pass. Great goalie but I’d rather MacT bring in younger goalies to challenge Dubnyk. I agree with the comments about having a better D corps in front of Dubnyk will equal better goalie statistics.

  • NO NO No… terrible contract no matter how you slice and dice!. Besides he is 34… only has maybe 3 years left… also has always been shakey
    in the play offs.

    If you are going to deal Hemsky to Vancouver,
    go for one of their D Men. Beiksa, Edler, or Hamhius… they need to shed some Cap.

  • DSF

    First, ….it is the wrong contract for the Oilers. Second,…..Dubnyk’s 26 yrs old now and his season to season performance keeps climbing upwards/progressively,…while Luongo is on his way to 35 yrs old and has but a very few years left for sure.

    The best deal is to go for a few other younger goaltenders with even better term contracts/are up for new contracts, etc. Those start being Mike Smith, Khudobin from Boston, maybe Emery, etc.

    The Oilers have two very important draft picks to make this year….one for a future top 2nd line centre (Barkov, Monahan, Lindholm, even Horvat) and a goalie to go up with Roy and Bunz,…(Fucale, Comrie, Jarry, Juuse Saros, or Ebbe Sionas).

    Trading Hemsky or Gagner, or Horcoff…. makes more sense when, in a smart deal package,the Oilers are going for established centre, power wingers, or a top two defencemen.

    The Oilers have future draft round picks to deal with, and several strong prospects to deal with also, including Omark, Rajala, Lander, Hartikainen, Fedun, Gernat, Musil, etc)

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Living in BC, I relish how sweet such a trade would be. For all his criticisms, Luongo is a damn fine goaltender. I would like nothing more than to point out to my neighbours how Gillis threw one of their best players under the bus just in time for us to snatch him up. Thank you for this amusing debacle Vancouver. We’ll get the last laugh and we’ll share it with ol Lubongo.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As much as I feel he would help the situation here. The Canucks are caught between a rock and a hard place on this. Let Vancouver use a compliance buy out on Roberto, sever that contract somehow. His new club could get him on decent contract then.

    Not even sure if the Canucks will move Luongo, Schnieder wasn’t really all that impressive down the stretch. Maybe they’re better off to move Cory instead. Vancouver and Edmonton are similar markets. The NHL is the only game in town and the athletes are forced to live in a frying pan as far as public opinion goes. He’s far better off in a city where they also have an NFL and MLB team, where nobody gives a ship about hockey.

  • DSF

    People tend to forget that Luongo’s contract has two out clauses built into it.

    “The first comes five years into the extension. If Luongo isn’t pleased with where the team is at, or where it’s heading, he can then trigger a trade. The out clause is timed for what should be an organizational crossroads — one year after the Sedins’ current long-term deal is up. The Canucks have agreed to accommodate the request by moving Luongo at that point.”

    “Two years later, after the contract extension’s seventh year, the Canucks have a reciprocal clause. If they want to go in another direction, they will have an opportunity to move Luongo despite his no-trade clause.

    Luongo would be 38 years old. But, if he’s still playing at an elite level, should remain an intriguing trading chip. At that point of the deal Luongo would have five years left and he would be owed just $13.714 million. ”

    “If Luongo wanted to keep playing into his twilight years, and the team wanted to move on, the more likely scenario would see the Canucks buy out Luongo’s contract.

    Because his contract is heavily front-loaded, a buyout would provide a lot of relief after eight years: The Canucks would have paid $57-million to Luongo at that point, leaving just $7 million over the remaining four years. With a buyout amount of $4.7-million (two thirds of $7 million) spread over twice the remaining length of the 2-year deal, the Canucks would owe just $587,000 a year. ”

    Obviously, the new CBA changes the penalties accruable at the end of the deal but, as JW says, a rising cap in those years makes the penalty very affordable.

    I think the only gamble here is whether or not Luongo will continue to perform at a high level for the next four seasons.

    I don’t think that’s a bad bet.

  • The fact that he could easily fall of the cliff performance wise any day now combined with theoretically sending over an incredibly useful player to the Canucks that YOU KNOW would bite us in the ass for years makes me want to immediately dismiss this idea.

    HOWEVA the reaction this would cause on the internet would be the single greatest thing ever, so now I don’t know what to think.

  • yawto

    Most starting goalies peak in their mid to late twenties. Lou is 34 yrs old he is past his prime, don’t get me wrong still a good goalie but if you are going to trade for him, you have to take that into account.

    How many starting goalies ate there in the NHL 34 yrs old and older and are effective.

    • DSF

      Goaltenders in their 30’s performing at a high level:

      Craig Anderson – 32 .941

      Henrik Lundqvist – 31 .926

      Ray Emery – 30 .922

      Viktor Fasth – 30 .921

      Thomas Vokoun – 36 .919

      Martin Biron – 35 .917

      Jonas Hiller – .913

      Evgeni Nabokov – 37 .910

      Pekka Rinne – 30 .910

      • otter2233

        So in a Dubnyk related article a while back you commented at how Dubnyk was merely average at best with a .921 save % this season now over half of the goalies you have listed here are under that % but are playing at a high level in your opinion… At Dubnyk’s age the upside and contract are much more appealing than dealing for Luongo in my opinion

        • DSF

          Dubnyk’s save percentage (based on his unsustainable percentage 4V5) is a mirage.

          While he MAY have upside, he MAY not.

          His contract was based on him being a bonafide NHL starter which I think is still questionable.

          Old Fart Khabibulin, playing behind the same team, registered a .923 save percentage which bests Dubnyk’s .920.

          Is he a better bet than Luongo in the next 4-5 years?

          Maybe…but the Oilers can’t gamble that that is the case.

        • DSF

          I’m aware of that.

          But there isn’t a magic date or age when a goaltender goes into decline.

          For example, would you pass on Craig Anderson because he’s going to be 34 in less than 2 years?

  • Dubnyk is going to make a fine starter. get him some real net clearing defense. MacT is not impressed, well he never impressed me as a player or coach and probably from what I read won’t as a GM. If they really want to get better Start with dumping Lowe and MacT. The rest comes easy.

  • Last year I would of done Hotcoff for Luongo. We don’t want that albatros. Its a bad contract you stay far away from. Can we have no more Luongo articals please. And why would we help Vancouver and then givre a useful player???

  • yawto

    Depending on the deal it could be the fist bold move mact makes. Would he try get vigneault as well, we just turned our other manager who came from that organization.