Well it is finally here. Camp is ramping up, players are returning from their temporary homes across the hockey globe and already trade rumors are appearing to just ooze out of the proverbial wood work. Ahh I love the smell of hockey trade bs in the morning…well sort of.
Every couch based General Manager that follows the Toronto Maple Leafs (including myself) would be willing to admit in no short order that the Leafs are a little lite on the whole NHL experience thingy when it comes to goaltending and some veteran presence to bolster things between the pipes would be appreciated especially if a certain young goalie doesn’t return to pre-whiplash form. I am not here to make trade speculations, rather a ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ or ‘wouldn’t it make sense’ scenario including my own personal spin given all the current speculation.
It has been talked about so much that it almost makes me ill but Roberto Luongo heading to the Leafs does for all intents and purposes appear to make the most sense especially given the fact that there just isn’t a whole lot of other high caliber goaltenders available right now. He is still statistically one the top 10 goalies in the league, won a gold medal in the last Olympics and was also in my opinion one of the primary reasons the Canucks made to the playoffs after the organization traded for him. Vancouver, after having a bit of a goalie turnstile (Dan Cloutier anyone?), addressed the need for better goaltending and it made them that much better; it is my belief the same thing could occur in Toronto. We are not arguing if it made them the best, just that it made them better.
The contract is an anchor, albatross…whatever you want to refer to it as and is a huge fiscal commitment for any team to absorb but remember that the new CBA will allow for buyouts. The Leafs have bucket loads of money and new owners that want to field a winning product as soon as possible; perhaps it isn’t as big of a commitment for them as we tend to view it. That being said just for a moment imagine Luongo was only getting paid $3.5 million a year. Exactly! It would start looking like a pretty darn good deal wouldn’t it, so why are we as fans so wrapped up in the fiscal side of the game? In all seriousness we really shouldn’t give a flying efff about how much the players are getting paid, really not our problem nor should we care unless our team goes bat crap crazy and signs a number of ludacris contracts. We should instead just want the best available players to represent our team and Luongo is just such an available player. Just look back at what people were saying about Quick in LA’s previous playoff appearances where similar conclusions were being drawn about his supposed inability to perform in pressure games. Luongo will make the team better and that in itself is a step in the right direction.
Now if Toronto is going to take on this massive contract and pay for the privilege to do so then perhaps there is room for the Leafs to at least make this a multi-player trade. It is rumored that Vancouver wants a solid young center and a prospect(s) in return, enter Tyler Bozak. If you take a look at Bozak’s last year and start comparing it to some of the other top line centers in the league, you just might be surprised. I am not going to outline it here in any great detail but go take a look at the statistics on HockeyDB, it might just change your mind. Bozak is definitely better than what he is currently given credit for and still relatively young; if the Leafs are going to part with him I would hope Vancouver would be willing to take a somewhat questionable contract in return, enter Mike Komisarek. Firstly I think Komi played decently but was paired somewhat poorly with rookie defense partners (i.e. Luke Schenn) and they dragged each other down. He could definitely use a change of scenery and perhaps the Leafs take something back, like Keith Ballard for example. Anyways as always, food for thought.