Roberto Luongo Or Bobby Ryan: Which Player Helps Toronto More?
The Maple Leafs always seem to be mentioned when a player is on the trading block, which can sometimes make fans scoff at any trade news, but both Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks continue to get a ton of print in the local rags, suggesting that there may be some validity to the trade talks this time around.
Originally thought to be willing to trade Luongo on the cheap, it now appears as if Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is playing hard ball with rival NHL general managers in an attempt to maximize his return on what he feels (despite a contract that will see Luongo over $50 million over the next ten years) is a dynamic player.
With Luongo, who registered a record of 31-14-8 with the Vancouver Canucks last season, making his off-season home in Florida the Florida Panthers look to be the veteran goaltender’s preferred destination. That said, outside of Florida, Toronto remains a legitimate trading partner for Loungo and Gillis as Burke has both the positional need and the cap space and monies with which to get a deal done.
Where the stumbling block seems to be is establishing a proper return for Luongo, which, whatever the case may be, Burke seems unwilling to meet thus far.
With Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer currently showing no side effects from last seasons injuries it appears as if he will be ready for the 2012-13 season. The question is, will Reimer simply be ready, or will he be ready to resume his starting role?
The fact is, contrary to Burke’s statement that he has all the confidence in the world that Reimer is a number one goaltender, he has no clue how Reimer will respond once he resumes his place as Toronto’s go-to netminder. Sitting in the on-deck circle should Reimer strike out is young Ben Scrivens, who, despite a nice season with the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies, is unproven at the NHL level.
It is that uncertainty with Reimer’s health and Scrivens’ inexperience that continues to fuel all the Luongo to Toronto rumors. While the deal is yet to come to fruition, there is still a good chance that Burke and Gillis will find a way to get a deal done by the start of the 2012-13 season.
Let’s face it, if Reimer’s injuries become an issue Burke will be in deep trouble next season. Should Burke fail to bring in a veteran puckstopper we may see a return performance from last season which saw a revolving door of young goaltenders coming up to the big club and going back down just as quickly, resulting in yet another missed opportunity for the playoffs.
With Burke’s job (he has two years left on his contract) seemingly on the line this season he has little choice but to find a way to improve his club. Burke has already upgraded at forward by trading with the Philadelphia Flyers for winger James van Reimsdyk. That said, JVR cost Burke defenseman Luke Schenn, who, despite his critics, was an important part of the Maple Leafs hockey club last season both on and off the ice.
So what if Burke does fail to bring in a veteran goalie, what then?
Well, there is always the chance that Burke revisits trying to pry talented forward Bobby Ryan away from the Anaheim Ducks organization, but with Burke already fleecing the Ducks in the Jake Gardiner deal you have to think Ducks general manager Bob Murray may be hesitant to pull the trigger on another deal with Burke for a while.
Ryan, who registered 31 goals and 26 assists for a total of 57 points with the Ducks last season, recently came out and all but demanded a trade out of Anaheim, citing the fact that his name always seemed to come up in trade rumors anytime the Ducks were looking to make changes.
Rumors persist that the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning are also interested in Ryan as well as the New York Rangers.
The Ottawa Senators have also been linked to Bobby Ryan with rumors that talented prospect Mika Zibanejad would be heading to Anaheim as part of a package for Ryan.
The Flyers are deep in young NHL talent (Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read) and look to have the inside track on landing Ryan. Of course, the Flyers have also been linked to the Rick Nash trade talks. If the Flyers were to land Nash any chance of Ryan heading to Philly would likely be dead, but they are considered front runners in both deals at this point.
The Penguins are said to have gone hard after free agent forward Zach Parise. The Pens want to upgrade on the wing (where they need talent) so they can maximize Sidney Crosby’s game. Much like the Flyers, the Pens are an attractive option for a young player, but do they have the assets to pull off a trade with the Ducks?
The Red Wings already lost out on both Parise and free agent defenseman Ryan Suter. They have a bundle full of cash to spend and look to have the prospects to pull off a deal with Anaheim, such as, Riley Sheahan, Brendan Smith and Calle Jarnkrok.
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to build depth at every position. They are loaded with young talent up front but are in need of more depth on the backend. It is for that reason that I think T-Bay is only lukewarm on Ryan.
As for the New York Rangers, much like the Maple Leafs, they seem to be in on every trade out there. No question, the Rangers could benefit from landing Ryan, but are they willing to send talented prospect Chris Kreider (a player that would intrigue Murray) the other way?
Which brings us back to the Toronto Maple Leafs. What would Burke have to give up in order to land the likes of Bobby Ryan? For starters, I am sure Murray would like to get Jake Gardiner back, but Burke has suggested in the past that Gardiner is all but untouchable.
Forward propspects Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton as well as defensive prospect Korbinian Holzer look to be the most likely candidates to be of interest for Anaheim, but do any of us really think a combination of those players could possibly get a deal for Bobby Ryan done? I sure as heck don’t!
In the end, it is the lack of top-end prospects and young talent that may fizzle any talk of Ryan coming to Toronto. Let’s face it, despite recent reports that JVR is going to give the centre ice position a shot at training camp, he may not be effective there. Centre is where Toronto needs the most help, not along the boards where Ryan plays.
When you consider what each player brings to the table, the Maple Leafs would benefit most from the acquisition of Roberto Luongo, not Bobby Ryan.
The Maple Leafs finished the 2011-12 season with the tenth best offense last season averaging 2.77 goals per game. Comparatively, the Maple Leafs finished 29th overall in goals against, averaging 3.16 per game.
Clearly, Toronto needs an upgrade on the backend and with Burke already augmenting his offence via the acquisition of JVR the obvious move is to get a veteran goalie, premier defenseman or hope one of Reimer or Scrivens works out.
Besides, with so many NHL teams said to be interested in Ryan, the Maple Leafs will most likely lose any bidding war for his services, so maybe it is best if Burke spent more time and energy on acquiring Luongo?
If and when Burke does pull the trigger on a deal it says here it better be for a legitimate number one goaltender or a number one centre. Keep in mind, Nazem Kadri and Carter Ashton (two of Toronto’s best forward prospects) look to be best suited for the wing at the NHL level. Meanwhile, Joe Colborne (a player the Leafs hoped to play centre at the NHL level) had a tough time last season at centre at the AHL level, never mind the NHL level.
Bobby Ryan to Toronto? Sorry folks, it just doesn’t make sense, and while I’ll agree that a move for Luongo is complicated and has it’s drawbacks as well, he might just be just what the Doctor ordered.
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Until next time,