Roberto Luongo Or Bobby Ryan: Which Player Helps Toronto More?

July 15th, 2012 9 Comments

Seemingly unable to lure a star free agent to Toronto this summer, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke still appears to be looking to add a player of significance.

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,




  1. Louis Pisano says:

    Trudat! Well said Mark ya covered all the angles bro! go Leafs go!

  2. Hudson says:

    I am sick of people holding the gay rights thing against Burke. Grow up, and drop the prejudice or shut the hell up.

    Mark, I have been quietly reading your articles. Thanks for keeping up on Leaf news and debates for us.

    After arguing hard for Luongo a few months ago, I think I am of the mind we should stick with what we have and not get pressured into stupid monies and terms, and giving up what little it is we have player-wise. We gotta grow our own talent much more than we have. All for going with Reimer and Scrivens.

  3. MarkRitter says:

    Hey Hud-

    I trashed Jakes comment. There is no room on this blog for hate.

    I too think Roberto Luongo is a risky venture. I just think that adding offense is not the way to spend our dollars right now.

    Few options out there as far as picking up a veteran goalie, but it doesn’t mean Burke has to throw himself in a corner with that huge contract. That said, I am not ok with going into the season with Reims and Scrivens, not if the Leafs are serious about the playoffs, there isw simply too much risk in sticking with those two.

    Burke is damned if he does get Luongo, damned if he doesn’t!

    I do agree that we have to start producing some of our own talent. It really is the only receipe for success these days.


  4. MarkRitter says:


    So, you still want to start with Scrivens and Reims or is there another plan man?

  5. luongo is by far the best option . bobby ryan a close second reims is good if his head is ok . but keep on looking burke theres more out there .GOD BLESS . GO LEAFS GO

  6. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey Gerry!

    Hopefully Burke finds another option other than Luongo, but there is not much out there right now. If the CBA could get done I think Burke would know where he stands in terms of cap space, which may expedite some deals. I like Reims, I wish him well and all that, but I am not sold he can get the job doen just yet. Then again, I wasn’t sold on him heading into last season either, although I expected him to put up better numbers than he did. Injuries aside, he too is very inexperienced and Scrivens has only a handful of games at the NHL level. I just cannot see how Burke doesn’t get a third option should Reims go down. It’s great Scrivens was so good in the playoffs, but that was the AHL and his numbers at the NHL are very ordinary at best.


  7. Hudson says:

    Well done, buddy. :) Man up out there, people.

    I, too, think that it’s risky, Mark. Not that Lou wouldn’t be better than anything we have, as you are so correct in asserting. But that we give up too much of the little we have, you know? Versus the potential that really may reside within these young tenders, and the points that reside in the players we may be forced to ship out in exchange.

    If Luongo was 28, it could be a whole other situation. I am starting to feel it is no longer enough for him to start for 5-6 years, and mentor out the rest (as I first argued), based upon what it will cost in money and players. We are going to do nothing but handicap ourselves by continuing to mortgage the future by losing more personnel. We have to stop the bleeding at some point, and especially for such minimal and short-term gain.

    Making it and exiting early…what does that do for us? Just like Burke said himself a year ago (and earlier). Will that really satiate Leaf Nation? Maybe for a year. In reality, probably much less, given the drought. Long term? Of course not. We’ve been there the past 20 years. We’ve been to the final four several times. Not good enough. 1967. Shit. I worked in a bar in 1993, and as awesome as it was those few weeks, it was half my life ago…and the Kings just won the cup.

    Build to win it all. Screw qualifying, just to say you were in it after 8 years of futility. Screw the hell out of that, actually. Qualify with the aim to seriously challenge to take it all. Perennial, people. Perennial. Lose out the next three years if need be. I could give a rats ass that the previous Leaf record was three years straight out of the playoffs. How many more cups did that that win us by qualifying more often than this latest spell? Zero. Zeeerrroooooooo.

    You put it pretty well, though, Mark. It is sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t – for Burke, at least. If we miss the playoffs with Reimer and Scrivens, it could very well be curtains for this suddenly embattled GM, at least in this hockey-stupid market (take that several ways). But considering the franchise as a whole, IMO, we are right now where Burke should have asserted we were a few years ago – early into a rebuilding phase. Set for playoff emergence in another (as yet to be determined) number of years.

    It really should have been that 5-year plan (minimum) Burke eschewed from the start. His ass would have felt a shitload cooler, not to mention the team’s buttocks. But instead he succumbed to the pressure cooker which is T.O., and his own ego – he was going to be Mr. Bandaid. Mr. Icy-Hot Patch. And I bought into it too, along with the idea of Wilson making a magical change. Should it surprise us that it has not come to pass? No. It’s called reality.

    So all we have are the empty promises, at first endlessly exaggerated, reverberated and then questioned and debated by the media’s machinations. We endure a team that continues to completely cave to the resultant pressure…under the absolutely inevitable and unrealistic expectation of immediate success. I ask myself: can I really blame them for failing? I can’t. Yet the panic button looms large…and we sit here debating when it will be pressed, most specifically for this stop-gap goalie solution.

    I think Burke either overestimated his abilities, or underestimated how hard it would be, and how long it would take to turn this ship (in this market) about and compete versus all the other teams putting just as much effort in. It’s a tough market out there. And while I truly admire him for his ‘morals’ as a GM, he’s not doing this franchise any favours by opting out of doing whatever it takes to land the big one. At the same time, what are you supposed to do in a cap system, and amidst the lunacy we’ve seen in these contracts? Would I want to have done what the Wild did? No way in hell. So I am torn and admire Burke staying his hand.

    As the team stands right now, I am not confident for this coming year, as I was last year. I believe we are better than we were last year. But I think I was just ignorant last year. We very well may be more than a few years away from shedding this jinx and total lack of confidence. I feel that way, anyway. I no longer think Luongo is the answer. And I don’t really think T.O. Is a possibility for him from now.

    In the meantime, all I can do is keep the faith in the long term, and tune into fun stuff like what you write here with such effort, skill, insight & grace, Mark. Makes it a lot more fun. Keep it up.

    Will it ever be sweet when we get there for real. I will call in a bottle of wine or a round to whatever restaurant you and your buddies are at when we make the playoffs. No shit.


  8. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey Hud-

    great comment, and I agree with much of what you are saying. I don’t think Burke overestimated his capabilities, rather he over valued some of his acquisitions. Komisarek was supposed to be a huge addition for the Leafs, and at the time of his signing the Hockey News had Komi ranked as one of the ten most feared/best hitters.

    Clearly, whatever Komi was drinking in Montreal didn’t follow him to Toronto as he seems to have lost his edge. That move alone really stung Burke interms of cap space and in performance from a player that he and others felt was top-shelf talent. Then we look at the Armstrong signing- no good. Then the Versteeg acquisition- didn’t work here, but he’s lights-out in Florida.

    Most of the bad moves Burke made were via free agency, his trade record is actually decent. So, Burke continues to prove his own verbage that GM’s make the biggest mistakes on July 1st, present company included!

    Misatkes loom large in today’s NHL, and Burke has made too many of them. That said, a lot of people liked the Komi signing, Armstrong signing and acquisition of Versteeg (I liked this one as well). Not until these players proved they sucked did Burke get the critics screaming at him, which is always the case anyways.

    Gustavsson? Worth the risk, but didn’t pan out either. Bozak? Mehh, he’s ok, but he’s not getting 50+ points on the third line. And on and on we go.

    Is Burke competent? I believe he is a good GM, but his hands were tied down so badly when he got here, what did we realistically expect him to do?

    Maybe that is where the fans and Burke are so far apart, expectations. The fans expected Burke to right every wrong in a matter of months, and while Burke did talk his team up at times, I am pretty sure he didn’t think the Leafs would be competitive for years when he got here.

    Sure, Burke said all the right things in the media- he could never say “I don’t think we’ll compete for a playoff spot this season” when pressed for an answer on expectations. Rather, he always put a positive spin on his team, believed in them and took responsibility for his players short comings.

    Unlike Wilson, Burke never throws his players under the bus, for better or for worse.

    I like the drafts Burke has completed. But until those players start winning games at the NHL level he will continue to be doubted in the minds of many.

    Poor guy, he can’t win for losing…but are we really suprised, afterall, it’s the Maple Leaf way…lol…


  9. […] shipped out before long.With so much of the Maple Leafs’ top-end talent being so young, is there any sense in bringing Luongo to Toronto?Sure, a goaltender of Luongo’s considerable talent could probably lead the Maple Leafs to the […]

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