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Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at rsoria@ourhometown.ca
Maple Leafs should bow out of the Luongo sweepstakes
Rob Soria
OurHometown.ca

Maple Leafs should bow out of the Luongo sweepstakes
With Rick Nash's list of his six preferred destinations being made public and Toronto nowhere to be found, the only big fish left on the Leafs radar would be Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo. With the pressure to win now, squarely on his shoulders, one has to wonder if General Manager Brian Burke is feeling the heat and possibly make another move this franchise will regret down the road.
PHOTO CREDIT - SportsAgentBlog.com

Edmonton - July 11, 2012 - Many of you out in Leafs Nation were unhappy with the piece "Maple Leafs may lose out on Nash, Luongo and Schultz" that I wrote back on June 26th.While I understood the frustration of possibly losing out on Justin Schultz, the uproar over the other two was rather confusing.

With Rick Nash's list of his six preferred destinations being made public and Toronto nowhere to be found, the only big fish left on the Leafs radar would be Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo. With the pressure to win now, squarely on his shoulders, one has to wonder if General Manager Brian Burke is feeling the heat and possibly make another move this franchise will regret down the road.

It was completely understandable why Burke decided to go after Phil Kessel back in September 2009. The talented winger was coming off a thirty-six goal campaign and was just about to turn twenty-two years old. Unfortunately for Toronto, they paid a hefty price to acquire the former fifth overall selection. In giving up two first round picks and a second rounder, the Boston Bruin ended up getting Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton in return for Kessel.

To make matters worse, the price could have been somewhat less if Burke would have simply signed Kessel to an offer sheet but "he doesn't believe in offer sheets". In a deal that would have still not looked great, giving up a1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick would have been a much better outcome for the Leafs. Not to mention, the ninth overall selection that the Bruins took Hamilton with, would have likely been higher if the Leafs had held onto it. A late season surge moved them up the standings and saved them the embarrassment of giving up two lottery picks in the deal. Take Seguin completely out of the equation, he would have been gone either way, but wouldn't the deal be far easier for fans to stomach, if the Maple Leafs had one of Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome, Mark Scheifele or Sean Couturier in the system?

Ever since than, the majority of the Toronto fan base and media have been breathing down the GM's neck and the heat has now reached a boiling point. They all want to see the Leafs in the playoffs but at what cost? Having already made a move that has set this franchise back at least five to seven years, would trading for a guy like Roberto Luongo really be a good idea?

Even if it were to cost the Leafs nothing more than cap space, it's a bad move. Obviously giving up any sort of real asset for a guy signed to a deal for the next nine years, which will see him being paid $6.714 over the next six, would be asinine and even someone as stubborn as Burke should realize that. This misconception that bringing in a goalie of Luongo's stature would somehow get the Leafs into the postseason, is nothing more than a pipe dream. They are not a playoff team...not even close.

Instead of bringing in a guy that will be an anchor on the cap, when they may actually be ready to compete for the playoffs, why not bring in a vet that can help James Reimer out? They could probably get Nikolai Khabibulin out of Edmonton for next to nothing, which would be a mistake on the Oilers part. He would be a good guy to help Reimer further develop, just as he did with Devan Dubnyk over the last two years. With one year left on his deal, it's a win/win situation. Same deal with Evgeni Nabokov, who would likely be available in New York.

Another possible option down the road, would be Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom. He will become a UFA after the coming season and will not be re-signed by the Wild, who inked Josh Harding to a three extension to take over as their starter in 2013-2014. Hell, they could even look at making a move for Jonathan Bernier in Los Angeles, if they want to a long term solution. The point is, there are options out there.

Would any of those names improve the Leafs as much as Luongo would? No but how much would he actually help them in the standings? Those other guys would only marginally improve Toronto in the now but none of them would screw them in the future.Which is something acquiring Roberto Luongo will surely do. It might end up costing Brian Burke his job as the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manger but it should be the least he could do, for a franchise he will end up leaving in the same mess, if not worse, than when he was brought on board.


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