Why adding goaltender Roberto Luongo is a difficult route for the Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning, according to Canada’s Sportsnet web site, will be on the list goaltender Roberto Luongo submits to the Canucks of teams to which he will accept a trade.
There is a sentiment Luongo to the Lightning is a no-brainer. Really, it is not and the reason is simple: Luongo has 10 years left on a 12-year, $64 million contract that pays $6.714 million the next six years. The cap hit is a more reasonable (but still substantial) $5.33 million and the Lightning certainly could accommodate that, especially short term. But Luongo is 33, which means if he still is playing at 39, he will be owed $6.714 million.
Tampa Bay owner Jeff Vinik has deep pockets but he didn’t get rich buying into that kind of calculation.
Still, one should never say never when it comes to sports transactions, and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman no doubt will check the lay of the land with Canucks GM Mike Gillis. Gillis would have to take back some salary to make any transaction work, but unless he is willing to take on Vinny Lecavalier’s 11-year, $85 million deal (and there is no indication Yzerman wants to go in that direction) it is difficult to see a way forward.
Steven Stamkos, one of the league’s brightest stars, is not going anywhere, nor is wing Marty St. Louis. Many believe left wing Ryan Malone and his $4.5 million cap hit is the key, but Yzerman and coach Guy Boucher like Malone a lot. He provides a physical element the Lightning desperately needs and his actual cash salary next season is just $3 million.
Like Lecavalier, he also has a no-move clause.
Even if Vancouver agreed to take Lecavalier (or Malone, for that matter), Tampa Bay already is so thin within its top six, it would be filling a hole in net by creating an even deeper one at forward; not exactly the plan going into the summer.
Really, though, the main stumbling block to Luongo coming to the Lightning is that contract. Like we said, never say never. Perhaps Yzerman and Gillis could work some creative magic. But Yzerman’s ideal is a young goalie who can grow with Tampa Bay’s young stars, not one who will drain the team’s budget down the road.