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Roberto Luongo in a Leafs uniform
Following a season where the Leafs found themselves free falling from a playoff spot to a top five draft pick, largely due to inconsistent play in the defensive zone and sub-par goaltending, many fans and members of the media are looking for change. One name that has been rumoured to be on the move this off-season is Vancouver Canucks goalie, Roberto Luongo.
North York - May 30, 2012 - Following a season where the Leafs found themselves free falling from a playoff spot to a top five draft pick, largely due to inconsistent play in the defensive zone and sub-par goaltending, many fans and members of the media are looking for change. One name that has been rumoured to be on the move this off-season is Vancouver Canucks goalie, Roberto Luongo.
Luongo has played his last six seasons in Vancouver, however with the emergence of Cory Schneider, and the Canucks coaching staff leaning towards him in crucial playoff games, it would seem Luongo would be on his way out. But does he really want to play in Toronto? And how badly do the Leafs need a starting goalie? Well, let's look at the last decade or so of Leafs goaltending.
Between the years of 1998 and 2002, Curtis Joseph played four seasons for the Leafs, leading them into the playoffs every year. Joseph's excellent performance earned him two all-star game appearances while with the Leafs. The Leafs haven't had a good playoff run since Joseph left the team to sign with the Red Wings in 2002.
Following Cujo's departure, Ed Belfour played three years in net for the Maple Leafs and was arguably the last good and consistent starting goalie that has worn the blue leaf on his jersey. Belfour played some of his best hockey for the Leafs in two seasons prior to the lockout. After the lockout, he played one more year for the Leafs but didn't look very good. This was likely due to a combination of his age, as he was closing in on retirement, and not playing for a year due to lockout.
Other goalies who played more than a handful of games for Toronto since then include: Mikael Tellqvist, J.S. Aubin, Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala, Martin Gerber, Jonas Gustavsson, J.S. Giguere, James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. None of these aforementioned goalies have proven to be a considered a consistent starting goalie.
Luongo might be the next star goalie in Toronto. He might be the guy to take up where Cujo and Belfour left off. He might not, and that would be bad news for whomever acquires his services because he carries a $5.33M cap hit through to the 2021-22 season.
Although the Leafs are right up against the cap, it would only take a few small moves to free up enough space to fit Luongo. Armstrong, Lombardi and Komisarek are names that come to mind when thinking of player that are signed to rather generous contracts that could offset Luongo's salary. Now the last remaining question is whether or not Luongo wants to play in Toronto for the Maple Leafs, a question that only a handful of people know the answer to.
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