Vancouver Should Trade Luongo to Lightning

Now before you get too far into this column, let me preface this by saying this is not an official trade, but merely what I think the Vancouver Canucks should do:

The Canucks should trade Roberto Luongo to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and here is why.

First and foremost, Luongo can’t trigger a trade until sometime around 2015 but that doesn’t mean he won’t waive his no trade clause to go to the right situation.  Past precedent has shown that if a player is offered the right opportunity, they would waive their no trade clause.  Tampa Bay would be that opportunity for Luongo.

Luongo has family that lives in Florida and they go back there during the off-season.  So there would be a huge appeal to playing a lot closer to family and home.

As we saw last playoffs, the Lightning made a nice run and are close to being a contender, however they are in desperate need of a goaltender.  With superstars like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier along with young stars like Brett Connolly, Victor Hedman and Teddy Purcell the Lightning have a team that is ready to contend.

It appears that age has finally caught up to Dwayne Roloson as his numbers have dropped off from where they were last season and even his career.  Roloson’s 3.67 GAA is the highest of his career and his 0.882 SV% is the lowest of his career.  Roloson is better suited as a veteran back-up.

Tampa Bay needs to make a move now before the hole gets too big, they are currently sitting 13th overall in the Eastern Conference and just five points out of a playoff spot.  Over the last 10 games the Lightning are 3-7-0.  The Lightning stars are either in their prime or entering their prime so now is the time to contend.  Tampa Bay needs to address their goaltending and Luongo would be a great fit.  Don’t forget that Luongo already has a relationship with GM Steve Yzerman from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The Canucks will have to address their goaltending this season as Cory Schneider has proven that he is ready to be a starter in the NHL and his contract is up.  Schneider will be a restricted free agent this off-season but you can count on several teams making large offers.  Canucks can’t afford to keep both goalies forcing them to move one.

So what would the Canucks want for Luongo?

The Canucks are in need of a big power forward and Ryan Malone would fit that bill.  Malone is 6-4 and 224 pounds and would be strong force in front of the net.  Malone has five 20+ goal seasons and brings a vast amount of playoff experience, including a run with Pittsburgh to the finals in 2008.  Malone could line-up with the twins on the first line, where he would create havoc for the goalie while the twins are cycling the puck.

As nice as it would be to be off the hook for the remaining years of Luongo’s contract it would take more than Malone.  Tampa would need to add some youth into the deal.  Connolly is not as option as he was Yzerman’s first draft pick as the Lightning’s GM.  Hedman isn’t going anywhere either as Yzerman knows firsthand how valuable an elite #1 defenceman is.  A player like Carter Ashton would be available.

Ashton is a 6-3 and 215 pound power forward prospect.  Ashton can play either wing which is important as the Canucks are deep at center.  Ashton was a scoring machine in the WHL where he scored 30 or more goals twice despite playing for three different WHL teams.  Ashton has shown the same scoring ability in the AHL where he has 13 goals and 22 points in 27 AHL games.

The Canucks would want a veteran goalie to back-up Schneider so adding Mathieu Garon to the mix would give them a goalie with 10 years experience.  Garon has proven to be a very reliable back-up goaltender that would help develop Schneider into an elite goaltender.

Cap wise this deal works for both teams.  Tampa Bay according to currently has around $3,000,000 in cap space.  Luongo’s remaining cap hit is just over $3,000,000 so the deal could work.

Remember that even though Luongo may be an elite goaltender the package in return for him may not involve an elite player going back to the Canucks.  Part of the appeal for trading Luongo would be getting out from under his 12 year contract.

The deal would look like this Luongo for Malone, Ashton, Garon and a draft pick, this deal makes sense for both sides, the Canucks move Luongo and his big contract while promoting Schneider as their new number one.  Vancouver adds a big net presence and power forward that will line-up with the twins, as well as a power forward prospect.  Tampa Bay gets an elite goalie to get them over the hump.  Luongo gets to still play for a contender while being close to home.  It’s a win-win-win deal.

Like I said this is not a real deal just something I think would help both teams involved.  I am looking forward to seeing what transpire with the Canucks goaltending situation.

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