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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    Trade talk: Who Oilers might deal, Eric Staal in limbo

    Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) celebrates his second-period goal with teammates, including his brother Jordan Staal, second from left, during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. The Penguins won 5-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    As has often been the case, some big trades have already happened before the hype-soaked Feb. 29 deadline, but there’s plenty of speculation regarding what might happen next.

    TSN’s Insider Trading segment is always a must-watch, so check it out right here.

    To reiterate, the video’s worth watching in full, but here are some highlights:

    • The Edmonton Oilers shine as one of the most obvious “sellers.” Teddy Purcell could be a nice supplementary piece, yet Pierre LeBrun rightly points to Justin Schultz as the most interesting name.

    He’s really received just about every chance you can ask for in Edmonton, but LeBrun notes that his confidence is “shot.” Schultz is a pricey guy to take on thanks to his qualifying rights; still, some team might believe that they can make that reclamation project work.

    • Andrew Ladd seems to be in limbo with the Winnipeg Jets, as it sounds like there’s the possibility of an extension or a trade.
    • Eric Staal‘s situation is murky, too. Bob McKenzie points out that Staal has control of his situation with no-trade/no-movement clauses, so he can dictate his future with (or without) the Carolina Hurricanes.
    • An interesting opinion raised by LeBrun: Mikkel Boedker‘s maybe the No. 1 rental forward.

    Darren Dreger reports that Boedker is looking for a six-year deal with a $5.5 million cap hit (which would be $33 million), whether that comes from the Arizona Coyotes or someone else.

    ***

    Again, watch the full video, as a lot of names and teams are discussed. Plenty of things can happen, but we’ll ultimately need to wait and see.

    Brian Elliott’s been steady for up-and-down Blues

    St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) lunges to make a save against the Nashville Predators during the first period Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Sanford Myers)
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    ST. LOUIS (AP) Brian Elliott is on a roll. Too bad the St. Louis Blues have little to show for it.

    During a prolonged scoring slump, the veteran goalie’s play has bordered on spectacular. He has seized the opportunity since Jake Allen was sidelined by a knee injury in early January.

    The 30-year-old Elliott has allowed one or fewer goals in regulation and overtime in five of his last seven starts, a run that has put him among the NHL’s best with a 2.07 goals-against average and .932 save percentage on the season.

    “Fantastic,” captain David Backes said after Elliott’s latest standout effort in a 2-1 shootout loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday. “You can’t complain about our goaltending, that’s for dang sure.”

    “Our goalie was our best player again. Played great,” coach Ken Hitchcock said.

    The rest of the team is in the doldrums, and the bottom line is the Blues have lost four of six. The Blues have scored no more than one goal in five of their last six.

    Hitchcock said the offense didn’t work nearly hard enough to sustain chances against the Jets, then put his players through a rigorous workout the next day to drive home the point. The defense is adjusting to expanded roles without Alex Pietrangelo, who is among the league leaders in minutes played but will be sidelined at least three weeks with a right knee injury.

    Elliott describes Pietrangelo as the type of player who “stick handles in a phone booth” to get the puck out of the zone.

    “Umm, we have some work to do,” Hitchcock said. “It’s pretty obvious.”

    Elliott has thrived with a heavy work load and is set to make his 13th consecutive start on Friday at Florida. Last year, Elliott was an All-Star.

    “It’s fun, it’s awesome,” Elliott said. “It’s why you play, to play the game and not to watch.”

    Before relieving Allen on Jan. 8 in the second period at Anaheim, Elliott had played just three games in the previous 14. There was no question who was No. 1.

    Whenever Allen returns, it’s liable to be more of a job share.

    “You try not to think about the past and the future, you just focus on the present,” Elliott said. “I don’t really look at the stats, I just keep trying to be the rock back there for the guys.”

    The last week or so, the 25-year-old Allen has been jumping into the latter stages of practices. Hitchcock said there’ll be something to talk about when he’s a full participant.

    The team is hoping injecting Jaden Schwartz will help revive the offense. The speedy forward was third on the team with 63 points last season but has played just seven games this season and is coming off a 49-game layoff from a broken left ankle heading into Friday’s game.

    “It doesn’t matter how many goals we score, you want to keep as many as you can out of your own net,” Allen said. “Obviously, we haven’t had a good amount of goals the last few games but we’re still coming out with some points.”

    Despite the scoring drought, the Blues have kept themselves in the vanguard, picking up at least a point in 12 of the last 15 games. Nine of them have been decided by a single goal.

    “Good teams get through tough situations,” Elliott said. “When things start clicking we’re going to be a dangerous team.”

    Jackets sign d-man Murray to two-year, $5.65 million extension

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    Columbus has agreed to terms with young blueliner Ryan Murray on a two-year, $5.65 million extension, the club announced on Thursday.

    “Ryan Murray is a talented, smart player who has been a very steady performer on our blue line and we are extremely happy to have this deal completed,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “Ryan has earned more ice time, showed steady improvement and contributed in all situations for us throughout the season.

    “We look forward to his continued growth and development with our club.”

    Murray, 22, was the second overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, taken one spot behind Nail Yakupov. While the first few years of his career were a disappointment — Murray missed a boatload of time to various injuries — his ’15-16 campaign has been a step in the right direction.

    Murray has four goals and and 17 points in 55 games this season, sitting third on the team in TOI per game (22:27).

    Of those numbers, the 55 games played is perhaps the most important, as it makes Murray one of three Blue Jackets – Boone Jenner and Gregory Campbell are the others – to have played in every game this season.

    Considering Murray’s previous career-high for games played in a season is 66, he’s well on his way to breaking that mark.

    Originally slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1, Murray is now locked in with Columbus (at $2.825M annually) through 2018. Of all the club’s blueliners, only he, Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson are signed for that long.

    NHL confirms ’17 Draft for Chicago, an ‘ideal setting’

    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 18:  Owner and Chairman Rocky Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks prepares to speak to the crowd during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship Rally at Soldier Field on June 18, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    Well, it’s official — the NHL Entry Draft is coming to the Windy City for the first time.

    On Thursday, the league announced that Chicago and the United Center would play hosts to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, marking the first time in league history the ‘Hawks organization has hosted the event.

    “The energy and passion Chicago has for the Blackhawks makes United Center the ideal setting for the 2017 NHL Draft,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “The Draft will be one of the central moments of our Centennial, and the NHL family is looking forward to bringing this signature event to Chicago for the first time.”

    Though it’s still far off — heck, the 2016 draft, which will be held in Buffalo this June, hasn’t even happened yet — the ’17 draft already has a few key names attached to it.

    Chief among them is WHL Brandon forward Nolan Patrick, the son of ex-NHLer Steve Patrick.

    Nolan, 17, scored 56 points in 55 games for the Wheat Kings in his first full campaign, capturing the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s rookie of the year.

    He’s expected to be one of the top players selected in ’17, as is Timothy Liljegren, a defenseman currently plying his trade with Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League.