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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    Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

    Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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    The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

    Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

    Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

    For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


    Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

    Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

    Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

    Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

    Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

    — The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

    Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

    — It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

    — Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

    ‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

    Zach Parise
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    For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

    The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

    The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

    “I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

    After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

    Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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    The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

    Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

    “It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

    The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

    The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

    Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.

    Video: Beleskey rocks Stepan, fights McIlrath (Update: Stepan won’t return)


    Well, Matt Beleskey sure made his presence felt in the Thanksgiving Showdown.

    With the Rangers leading the Bruins 2-1 midway through the second period, Beleskey delivered a huge hit on Rangers forward Derek Stepan, then had to answer the bell as he was immediately confronted by towering Blueshirts d-man Dylan McIlrath.

    Needless to say, it had a pretty profound effect on the game.

    McIlrath got the instigator penalty for the fight, which sent the B’s to the power play. Not long after, Brett Connolly scored his fifth of the year to even the score at 2-2.

    Then, later in the period, Stepan was spotted going down the Rangers’ tunnel.

    We’ll keep tabs on Stepan’s condition moving forward, and if the comes out for the third period.

    There’s a pretty good chance New York bench boss Alain Vigneault will be asked for his thoughts on the hit, too, so stay tuned.

    Update: The Rangers have ruled out Stepan for the remainder of the contest.