Roberto Luongo has possibly played his last game for the Vancouver Canucks.
He’s been the whipping boy in Van city for the past few years. His inconsistency and massive contract don’t jive well together. With the steady emergence of backup Corey Schneider, it seemed like only a matter of time before Bobby Lou was dealt.
The Canucks losing in the first round of the playoffs will only speed up that process.
Meanwhile, Rick Nash will be on his way out of Columbus this summer, as early as at the draft in June. You don’t see blockbuster 1-for-1 deals too often, but doesn’t a Luongo for Nash deal make sense for both teams?
The opportunity to land a sniper like Nash doesn’t come around too often and the Blue Jackets could use an upgrade in goal.
Steve Mason won the Calder as NHL rookie of the year in 2008-2009, after posting 33 wins and a 2.29 GAA. In the three years since, he’s averaged 20 wins and a 3.16 GAA. Mason has one year left on his contract ($3.2 million) before becoming a restricted free agent.
The deal makes sense financially: Luongo has $47.3 million owed to him over the next 10 years, while Nash has $47.4 million owed to him over the next 6 years.
Luongo has said he would waive his no trade clause in order to do what is best for the team. What remains to be seen is if he would do so if a fair offer came along from a lowly team like Columbus. Then, we’ll see how desperate he is to get out of Vancouver – and be a team player.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that Bobby Lou might end up in Toronto. Then again any athlete that is available, whether it’s an NHL, MLB or NBA star, is usually rumoured to be on his way to Toronto.
NEXT ROUND ON ME: After a dreadful start to the first round, I finished 4-4. Looking forward to Round 2. I’ll go with Nashville and Los Angeles in the West, and New York and Philadelphia in the East.
HEY BIG SPENDER: It’s interesting to see how many big spending teams failed to make it into the second round of the NHL playoffs. Of the teams with the top 10 payrolls, only Philadelphia (1), Washington (2) and Los Angeles (7) remain in the hunt for Lord Stanley. On the other hand, some of the lowest spending organizations are off to Round 2, including Phoenix (22), St. Louis (23) and Nashville (24).
COYOTES UGLY DROUGHT OVER: The Coyotes won their first playoff series since moving to Phoenix in 1996, ousting the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. It took them 16 years, and they did it ironically in the first season that Winnipeg welcomed the NHL back to Manitoba. Good for their fans in Arizona, who may not have an NHL team next fall.
PAIR OF UFA’S PAYING OFF: Brian Elliott and Mike Smith are sure making the teams they were let go by last year look silly. Both Ottawa and Colorado didn’t want Elliott, but the St. Louis Blues signed the unrestricted free agent on July 1. He posted a 1.56 GAA this year in 38 games and will be the man in between the pipes when the Blues face Los Angeles in the second round. Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lighting chose not to resign Smith, who was snagged by the Phoenix Coyotes on July 1. He posted 38 wins and a 2.21 GAA in the regular season and has led the Coyotes into Round 2 vs. the Nashville Predators. While Elliott and Smith obviously have the ability, a lot of their success has to be credited to Ken Hitchcock and Dave Tippett, respectively. Their defensive systems make it a lot easier to put up those kinds of numbers.
SID TAKES A PASS: Sidney Crosby’s frustrating season is officially over after he turned down an invitation to play for Canada at the World Championships. He will now focus on training for next season. It’s maddening for me to see guys like Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews and now Crosby turn down the opportunity to play for their country. Crosby isn’t hurt – perhaps mentally drained – so he should be there for Canada. Obviously the Worlds don’t mean as much to Canadians as they do to other countries across the pond. Meanwhile, Evgeni Malkin has been added to Russia’s roster.
LUPUL BACK WITH CAREER YEAR: Max Pacioretty and Daniel Alfredsson had great comeback seasons, but Joffrey Lupul should win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Lupul’s career almost came to an end in 2010 after two back surgeries. He also overcame a blood infection and was a point-per-game player for the Maple Leafs this season before separating his shoulder in April.
COLTS COULDN’T CLOSE: The Cornwall Colts can hold their heads high, despite falling in the CCHL final for the second straight year. That was one speedy and talented Nepean squad they lost to. Raiders defencemen Ben Hutton and Ryan Johnston were the difference in the series; it seemed like they played 30 minutes each per game. Couldn’t help but think that Youssef Kabbaj (who left earlier in the season for the QMJHL) would have been a difference maker for Cornwall.
LNAH FINAL SET: Windsor will take on Thetford in the LNAH final, which begins Friday night. Windsor is looking to repeat as champs; it’s also their third straight final. Local hockey fans might want to keep an eye on this series, as the LNAH will be coming to Cornwall next season.
PIPER’S POINTS: The 40th annual Raisin River Canoe Race was cut short by 10 km but still went on as scheduled last weekend. Water levels were low and only 98 canoes registered for the event. It was a bumpy ride, but my partner and I were able to once again shoot the dam successfully! Planning a race around Mother Nature has to be difficult, but perhaps it shouldn’t be scheduled so far in advance. This year, all the snow melted in late March and water levels would have been ideal then. I’ve been in 4 of the last 5 events and like most participants; I wouldn’t need more than a couple weeks’ notice in order to register for the race.