Note: While an employee at MLSE I have absolutely no idea whether the Maple Leafs will pursue Roberto Luongo. This post is a reasonable and hopefully reasoned guess. Anywhoo…
I have this great idea about marriage.
There should be a no-fault window for separation every five years; sort of a renegotiation where you can look at the Missus and say ‘up for another five?’
What the Leafs need to consider about Roberto Luongo is whether they want to be married to him for the rest of his playing life. How long he wants to stay at the party is his call. Theoretically he can be paid until he is 43 which is 131 in dog years by the way.
If Roberto Luongo was guaranteed to retire in five years, I would go after him. He is still a good, if not very good goalie and his cap hit of $5.33 million is livable. Luongo is an Olympic champ and he has been to the Stanley Cup finals. He has big-time-big-time experience.
The 10 years left on his contract and the fact that he is the second-best goalie on a team that went out in the first round dictates there should be limited competition for his services. The price for a comparable albeit younger goalie, say Jaroslav Halak, would be substantially higher.
Even if he isn’t in top form Luongo would provide what the Leafs desperately need: someone to eat minutes while they develop a younger goalie, be it James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas, Mark Owuya or someone we haven’t met yet.
There seems to be little downside to acquiring him…should he want to come to Toronto and should he decide to retire in five years.
And that’s the hitch. What happens if Luongo decides he wants his grandkids to see him play…live.
Consider this from our good friends at CapGeek.
Roberto Luongo buyout from CapGeek.com
- 2017-18: -$466,400
- 2018-19: $2,865,600
- 2019-20: $4,629,600
- 2020-21: $5,247,600
- 2021-22: $5,247,600
- 2022-23: $914,267
- 2023-24: $914,267
- 2024-25: $914,267
- 2025-26: $914,267
- 2026-27: $914,267
The variable, injury and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will muddy the issue but the essential question is this: how long will Roberto Luongo stay at the party?
No one really expects Luongo to play into his forties but as the graph shows, beginning in 2018 the effect of having to buy him out would be near-cataclysmic.
This isn’t the Los Angeles Kings taking on 11 and 10-year terms with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. On average NHL teams have one North American position player over the age of 35. Richards and Carter will probably leave with three or four years on their contracts.
Goalies age differently. Dwayne Roloson is 42. Martin Brodeur is a playoff starter at 39. Nikolai Khabibulin is 39. Johan Hedberg and Tim Thomas are 38. These guys don’t appear to be retiring anytime soon but there isn’t one that would tell you he’s a demonstrably better goalie than he was at 35.
The stakes are different for goaltenders. Think the Flyers aren’t sweating the fact that 31-year-old Ilya Bryzgalov has eight more years on his deal at $5.6 million per? The Islanders might want a do-over on Rick DiPietro who is 30 and has nine more years at $4.5 years. Injuries have kept DiPietro out of all but 47 games over the last four years and while he comes off the cap when he is hurt his presence remains an albatross. This guy is an amnesty clause waiting to happen.
General Managers have families like anyone else. They like working. That means they will often choose short-term solutions and let the guy sitting in their office five years from now sort things out. GMs who work for teams that haven’t been in the post-season since the lockout would likely feel more inclined to go all-in.
This is where Brian Burke isn’t like everyone else. I think he could choke down Luongo’s contract despite the fact that he is on record as opposing front-loaded deals. To my knowledge Burke has never said he wouldn’t take that kind of a contract. He has said he would not tender one.
No, the question with Burke is whether his successor, be it Dave Nonis or someone else, is shackled with a 39-year-old goalie he can’t trade or buy out. That will matter to him in a way that it wouldn’t matter to anyone else I know.
That’s why I think he will take a pass.