Monday, October 22, 2012

How a New CBA Affects a Roberto Luongo Trade

Roberto Luongo Canucks Leafs
A lockout hasn't stopped the endless Roberto Luongo rumours.

Last week, Sportsnet's John Shannon reported that there is an agreement between Toronto and Vancouver that would send the 33-year-old netminder to the Leafs once the lockout ends. Apparently Brian Burke and Mike Gillis (who both denied Shannon's report) have been in communication for a long time, ever since the Canucks reportedly asked for Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin, and a first-round pick at June's entry draft. That asking price was obviously a non-starter for the Leafs, but a deal surrounding Bozak is supposedly very much alive.

However, with the owners' latest CBA proposal, which would stick teams who sign a player for more than five years with that player's cap hit upon retirement, there is speculation in some corners that the price just went up.

This is based on the logic that trading Luongo has much less value for the Canucks. If a punishment provision for back-diving contracts is implemented into a new CBA, the Canucks will now pay his cap hit regardless of whether he retires in Vancouver or elsewhere. As a result, they should demand greater compensation.

In reality, nothing much has changed.

The Canucks are still getting out from under the weight of the deal in the short-term, which becomes even more important if the cap goes down to the $60 million range it would with an immediate 50-50 split in hockey related revenue. The Canucks currently have the third highest cap hit in the league at slightly under $67.8 million, so keeping Luongo to rot on the bench becomes even more problematic.

Just because the $5.33 million cap hit will revert back to Vancouver sometime between 2018 and 2022 does not suddenly give them any more leverage in this situation.

Nothing has changed for the team acquiring Luongo. There is no benefit to having Luongo's cap hit return to Vancouver upon his retirement. In either scenario, the cap hit is off the books for Luongo's new team. Whether it is saddled onto Vancouver or disappears into the ether should have no bearing on Luongo's trade value.

This potential new contract clause is a problem in Vancouver, nowhere else. Gillis may not like it, but that doesn't enable him to charge a premium.

The only way Vancouver can extract any more value out of Luongo is if this new wrinkle miraculously shakes loose an extra trade partner.

Unfortunately for Vancouver, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle sees Toronto as the only logical choice, considering Florida has the up-and-coming Jacob Markstrom and doesn't seem willing to offer up much more than dead weight. Unless Chicago gets involved, it is Toronto or bust.

The fact that Toronto is willing to make a deal without including dead weight of their own should be a godsend for the Canucks.

It's time for Mike Gillis to face the sobering reality. He couldn't get Nick Bjugstad or Quinton Howden from Florida and there is no way he is getting Jake Gardiner or a first-round pick from Toronto. At this point he needs to realize that, despite his patience, no trade market truly developed for the talented netminder and he is best served taking back some sort of positive asset, while putting Luongo's cap space to better use.

A new CBA might mean Vancouver is eventually stuck with a cap hit they never intended on having, but no matter how disagreeable this may be, it doesn't affect Roberto Luongo's trade value.

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