Roberto Luongo and Jonathan Bernier Still Available: Why Hasn’t Burke pulled The Trigger?
When the 2011-12 season opened Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was optimistic that James Reimer and the goaltender formally known as “The Monster” Jonas Gustavsson could hold the fort between the pipes for the Blue and White.
Injuries to Reimer and inconsistent play from both netminders proved Burke wrong and now, 12 months later, Burke seems content to start the season with two relatively unproven goaltenders again.
Of course Burke is on the record as saying he would like to start the season with a more experienced puck stopper in place, but his actions (or lack thereof) continue to say quite the opposite.
For much of the summer the Toronto Maple Leafs have been the subject of many trade rumors. Included in those rumors are a deal that would send disgruntled netminder Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks to the Leafs, while another rumor suggests Burke has interest in youngster Jonathan Bernier out of Los Angeles.
It has been suggested that Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is asking too much for Luongo, or at least enough that Burke scoffed at the deal, while the Bernier rumors seem unsubstantiated at this point.
The acquisition of Luongo would also be complicated by the ten-years remaining on a 12-year deal that will see the veteran netminder pocket $5,333,333 in each of the next ten seasons and the fact that he is on the record as saying that Florida would be the destination of his choice.
With Luongo currently residing in Florida and the fact that he is familiar with the organization from his previous stay with the Panthers from 2000-01 through 2005-06 the orange juice state looks to be a viable option for Luongo. Add that to the fact that the Panthers could use a netminder of Luongo’s experience and success in order to bring their roster to the next level and it would appear as if Florida is a natural fit.
That said, there have been no reports of any offer to the Panthers for Luongo’s services and with both Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen under contract for the 2012-13 season, there appears to be no rush for Panthers general manager Dale Tallon to make the deal happen.
With last season’s lack of results still fresh in the minds of the Leafs Nation and the Maple Leafs burly general manager you would think there would be a measure of panic to get something done, and yet here we are just a few days away from August 1st and there is no deal in sight.
In the case of Bernier Burke could bring in a young goaltender who could potentially solve his goaltending issues for the next decade. Burke still believes in Reimer, but if he happens to be sidelined by injuries Burke would have to rely on Ben Scrivens to take the Maple Leafs to the playoffs which, given Scrivens’ lack of NHL experience, would be a long shot at best.
So why hasn’t Burke pulled the trigger? Your guess is as good as mine.
With the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement still unsigned and the possibility of a strike in the not so distant future becoming very real Burke may not want to add a big salary to his payroll. But in the case of Bernier that is a moot point as the former first round draft choice (11th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is set to make just $1.25 million next season.
Maybe Burke knows something we don’t? Maybe, just maybe, he really does believe in Reimer and failing that, perhaps he was impressed enough by Ben Scrivens’ play in the Calder Cup playoffs that he is confident the duo can do the job?
Lest we forget, Reimer came out of nowhere (well, he came from the Toronto Marlies) to post a very respectable 20-10-5 record with the Maple Leafs in 2010-11. Reimer posted a 9-5-0-1 record with the Marlies that season to go along with a 2.59 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Comparatively, Scrivens posted a 22-15-0-1 record with the Marlies last season, with a sparkling 2.04 goals against and an impressive .926 save percentage.
To be fair, Scrivens played on a much more talented/deeper team than Reimer did, but the numbers suggest if Reimer can be a difference maker at the NHL level, Scrivens could as well.
Looking at the Maple Leafs roster for the upcoming season there are still a few holes. The loss of defenseman Luke Schenn in the deal that brought James van Riemsdyk to Toronto has left a hole on defense while Burke still is in need of a number one centre.
Perhaps Burke would rather take his chances on Reimer and Scrivens and use his assets to bring in a player that could upgrade his team at centre or defense? Or, as has been suggested in the papers, maybe Burke just doesn’t like what the asking prices have been for Luongo and Bernier?
One thing is for sure, both of these supposed deals have been lingering for weeks now. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see Burke either piss or get off the pot.
Until next time,