TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted out this nugget earlier today:
It's believed NYI would, under right circumstances, have interest in VAN G Roberto Luongo, tho 1st order of biz is to gauge cost on Nabokov.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 30, 2013
setting Isles fans aflutter at the prospect of returning Roberto Luongo back to LI.
Let’s explore this a little bit, the “right circumstances” is rather ambiguous. It’s no secret that Vancouver GM Mike Gillis has tried to deal Roberto in the past, failing along the way. He’s also made it known that Roberto “probably isn’t” returning for another year in Vancouver. Due to Luongo’s contract, teams aren’t exactly falling overthemselves to trade for one of the best regular season goalies in the NHL. Roberto’s also had a well documented playoff career in Vancouver, that’s less than sparkling, to put it kindly. There’s virtually no trade market for Luongo save for the Isles leaked “interest” in him, so, should be easy pickings to grab Robbie and be set in Goal next year and know that Robbie can steal a game or two along the way and the Isles offense, which will probably be better than Vancouver’s will carry the load when Roberto’s off. Yeah, makes some sense...here’s the problem though, Mike Gillis is in a no-win situation in Vancouver. If you’re a Canucks fan and you’re over the rumors you probably just want Luongo gone, hopefully for a piece that’ll help. But if you’re Mike Gillis: team up against the cap ceiling, having handed out No Movement clauses like subprime mortgages pre-recession, and virtually no prospects anywhere close to helping the team, you need to get SOMETHING more than a draft pick or two for one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. You can’t afford to undersell Luongo, and you can’t afford to bring him back.
Yes, Gillis is desperate, but he’s going to try and make a hockey deal or buyout Luongo and send him to the wolves letting the other 29 teams go bonkers trying to sign him. Hey, if the Islanders really are interested, why not try and make a hockey deal; they have prospects, they have the cap space to offload him, also, they aren’t in your conference, so “outta sight, outta mind.” It all makes perfect sense to try and make a hockey move involving Luongo. You know you can’t get your hands on the cream of the crop: Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Nino Neiderreiter and Griffin Reinhart; you can live with that, but what about their lesser prospects: Johan Sundstrom and John Persson are vastly under-rated and you could probably get one of them. Well, you’ll need more than one of their B prospects, and the Isles do have a mid-1st roud draft pick in a very deep draft, 2 1sts is better than 1st and there’s still some good names available at 15, help you can use the 15th and move further up and dtry to grab a Max Domi or someone like that. Yeah, it’s starting to come together...well, since you’re “settling” for a B and want the 1st rounder, you’ll probably have to take back the worst contract in the NHL; but a Compliance buyout on Rick DiPietro, makes you look smart for once and give you a little good press, so now you can get three pieces, in your mind; finally, the Isles have a lot of prospects playing overseas, Mikko Koskinen might make for a good Goalie to spell Cory Schneider and you’re not keeping DiPietro, and there’s that Petrov kid, you could pair him with the Sedins or Kesler and get a bit more out of the top 6. So, there you have it: B prospect, 1st round pick, Compliance buyout that gives you decent press, and maybe a prospect from overseas that’ll help out. You have a hockey trade for Luongo, you’ve rid yourself of Roberto and you’ve added quality pieces to a team lacking behind the big names. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?
Well, let’s come crashing back to earth; the Isles aren’t going to bid much on Luongo and will look to trade for him only if they truly feel they don’t want Evgeni Nabokov back, they have two pretty solid goaltending prospects in Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson, in addition to Mikko Koskinen, so their future is one of those three and they can either bring in a Luongo to start for a season or two, or look to bring in an experienced backup with some successful playoff experience: Mike Smith or Brian Elliot spring to mind; so there’s no pressing need for a Luongo, that’d just be a luxury. Finally, The Isles do need a Goalie, but they need a top line RW and a top pair shutdown defenseman in worse ways, so those need to be a higher priority.
Finally, think of where the news sprang from, yeah, Bob McKenzie may be the best in the business, but the Islanders don’t usually play fast and loose with their planning, if they’re leaking something it means it was a thought, but a passing one. Garth Snow has always played his cards close to the vest, he may not always be right, but when he makes big moves, he doesn’t tell anyone what his planning is. The Ryan Smythe and Richard Zednick trades came out of nowhere at the ‘07 deadline, he head faked everyone picking Nino Neiderreiter and Ryan Strome over Cam Fowler and Doug Hamilton respectively, and he only let it be known that he offered Paul Martin, Dan Hamhuis and Anton Volchenkov more than they signed for only after they had signed. Any of those three signing with the Isles that summer would have been a huge shock to the hockey world. Garth works silently, to publicly release “yeah, we might like him,” feels out of place for him.
Do I think the Islanders are going to trade for Roberto Luongo, no, I don’t. Do I think they can offer him a good deal, competitive team and a chance to go back to the playoffs, yes, I do. Vancouver has essentially no one to trade Luongo to, and giving the Canucks an out doesn’t seem like the way to go. Force them to buyout Luongo and then offer him a decent contract to bring him in. I don’t see the Islanders making a trade for Luongo unless they’ve exhausted all other options.