Looking at Roberto Luongo's contract in the wake of NHL's apparent ultimatum

Thumbnail image for robertoluongo2.jpgIf the report from last night about the NHL throwing down an ultimatum to the NHLPA over Ilya Kovalchuk’s latest contract hasn’t already sent you for a loop, we suggest you get caught up by reading about it because a lot of the stories coming out the rest of the day may not make much sense to you otherwise. Case in point, the fans in Vancouver have every right to get anxious about things because Roberto Luongo’s contract is next on the chopping block.

Luongo’s 12-year extension with the Canucks went into effect on July 1, and when the NHL began to their witch hunt of other long-term, cap-challenging contracts Luongo’s contract (as well as those of Marc Savard, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa) were all mentioned as deals the league was going to further investigate. Understandably, the report from the New York Post about the league potentially voiding Luongo’s deal should the NHLPA not agree to the NHL’s apparent terms has folks in Vancouver, like Jason Botchford of The White Towel, scurrying to analyze Luongo’s contract and if they’ve got a case to fight the league.

Before the Luongo deal was signed, the NHL advised Vancouver to take two years off of the negotiated term, making the deal a decade long. The Canucks chose to keep it a 12-year deal and the NHL only conditionally accepted the contract.

As part of the condition, the Canucks were investigated by a third party law firm. Both GM Mike Gillis and assistant GM Laurence Gilman were questioned for several hours in an effort to determine whether the deal was negotiated in good faith. If the league had found any wrongdoing, it would have likely acted on it by now.

If the contract is now de-registered, the NHLPA can grieve the decision. The Canucks believe the NHLPA’s case for Luongo is much stronger than the one for Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102-million deal. Arbitrator Richard Bloch sided with the league in the subsequent Kovalchuk hearing.

There are a few key differences in Luongo’s deal. He averages $1.2 million during the last 3 years where Kovalchuk was making less than $1 million. True, it’s nowhere near the $10 million he makes now. But Marty Turco will make $1.3 million this year. Last year, he earned $5.7 million. In the final three years of his career, Dominik Hasek averaged $1.4 million after averaging $7.7 million in the five previous years.

Luongo also does not have a no-movement clause, something Kovalchuk’s deal had for the first 12 years. In the final five years of his deal, Kovalchuk’s no-movement shifted to a no-trade and that shift was seen as an escape clause by Bloch.

Making the case against other older goaltenders with how much money they make is a nice comparison, but a lot of similar comparisons exist in the Kovalchuk contracts that have been/are being attempted by the New Jersey Devils and it seems as if the league would say no to both of them. What works against them here is that the league warned the Canucks to cut off the last two years of the deal and shook their fist at them while doing so. The Canucks figured the NHL wouldn’t dare do anything about it and they didn’t… Until now.

If Luongo’s deal was voided by the league he would become an unrestricted free agent, but don’t let your imagination run away with you, he wouldn’t be leaving Vancouver. After an eventual grievance hearing with the NHL over nixing the deal (which they’d likely lose) Luongo and the Canucks would just try to re-work a new contract and then we’d have another fiasco to work from similar to that we’re seeing with Ilya Kovalchuk. The fun would never end, but let’s hope it never comes to that.

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    Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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    Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

    Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

    Related PHT coverage:

    Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

    — Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

    — Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

    — Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

    Report: Vegas sends Trevor van Riemsdyk to Hurricanes

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    Here. We. Go.

    According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Vegas Golden Knights have sent defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Van Riemsdyk was among 15 defensemen taken by the Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft, however, general manager George McPhee made a point of saying that, as a result of having this sudden surplus at the position, he was going to have to move some of those blue liners.

    McPhee has been busy over the past few days, making deals with a number of teams ahead making his expansion selections, stockpiling draft picks, including three in the top 15 of the first round.

    More to come.

    Stars add Barnes and Wilson to Hitch’s staff, retain Fraser

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    Dallas filled out Ken Hitchcock’s coaching staff on Thursday, with a host of familiar faces.

    Hitchcock’s longtime assistant, Rick Wilson, has come aboard, as has former Stars forward Stu Barnes. In announcing those hires, GM Jim Nill also revealed the club would retain the services of assistant Curt Fraser, who has been with the club since 2012.

    “The three have a unique familiarity with the club from the time they spent here,” Nill said in a release. “We’re excited for the wealth of knowledge and experience they will add to our coaching staff.”

    Wilson, 66, worked with Hitch in Dallas from 1995-2002 and, together, captured the Stanley Cup in ’99. He also worked with Hitchcock in St. Louis over the last few years.

    Barnes, 46, finished his 17-year NHL career in Dallas, then quickly transitioned to the coaching side of things in 2009, spending two years as a Stars assistant under Marc Crawford.

    ‘We will be aggressive’ — Panthers GM looks to add scoring in free agency

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    The Florida Panthers cleared up some cap space with yesterday’s moves in the expansion draft, but now they’ll need to find a way to replace the offensive production Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith were responsible for.

    Marchessault broke out last season for 30 goals on a very affordable contract and while Smith’s goal total (and shooting percentage) were down last year, he’s still a two-time 20-plus goal scorer. Both are now gone from the Panthers lineup following yesterday’s expansion draft chaos.

    Already among their offseason signings was a two-year entry-level deal with Henrik Haapala, who stands in similar stature to Marchessault at 5-foot-8 and led Finland’s top professional league with 60 points this past season — his fifth in SM liiga.

    Beyond that, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon has made his intentions known that he plans to be aggressive when the free agent market opens up.

    “We have some flexibility long term. Our goal is to win multiple championships and these moves we’re making are looking to the present but also to the future,” said Tallon, per the Miami Herald.

    “We will be aggressive moving forward in free agency. There’s a plan in place and we’re going to stick to it.

    “This is not, necessarily, the team we will have in three months. We have plans in place to make this team exciting.”

    The Panthers now have about $20.1 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. They have about $27.665 million committed to eight forwards. They also have two restricted free agent defensemen — Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk — in need of new contracts, and Tallon has told reporters he’ll re-start talks with the 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who is a pending unrestricted free agent.

    It will be interesting to see what is available at forward when free agency begins. The list of pending UFA forwards right now includes the likes of T.J. Oshie, Radim Vrbata, Alex Radulov, Patrick Eaves, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Martin Hanzal, among others, so there may be options if the Panthers choose to go in search of scoring on the open market.