Roberto Luongo was a Vezina finalist this season for Vancouver. (Getty Images)
The Stanley Cup may be over, but hockey isn’t about to leave our consciousness with the awards, draft and free agency all just around the bend.
But in this brief reprieve, THN staffers answer your questions. The mailbag will then take a small break of its own, but will return July 8.
So, without further ado…
With reports Gary Bettman may allow Jim Balsillie to own a team after all, how likely is it that after two years he finally manages to get the Coyotes and move them to Hamilton or the GTA? A deal with Balsillie to move the team would fetch the league much more than what they would get out of the Hulsizer sale. Even if part of the sale money goes to the Leafs and Sabres they still make more than the deal currently in place with fewer headaches.
Joseph Ierfino, Newmarket, Ont.
Given their history, it’s hard to imagine Bettman and Balsillie are about to embark on a beautiful partnership together any time soon. But, given the tenuous state of some of its teams, it’s equally hard to believe the league can afford to ignore any potential owner with the amount of hockey passion and depth of pocket Balsillie can boast.
Balsillie famously tried to strong-arm the league into allowing him to gain a franchise and the technique clearly wasn’t appreciated. The relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg might set a precedent that makes Balsillie believe if he goes about things the way the league wants, something can be done.
Still, there’s some hatchet-burying that must take place first. -RD
Dr. Proteau, (why not?) With Bryzgalov leaving the desert for greener pastures, what do you think about Marty Turco signing a cheap one- or two-year deal with the Coyotes? He hasn't played too well in the past few seasons, so his asking price shouldn't be too high, and perhaps a reunion with Dave Tippett is just what he needs.
Brandon Sparks, Fredericton, N.B.
Marty Turco is definitely one of the names being bandied about in Phoenix and while the Dave Tippett connection is a solid one, I’m not sure having Turco short-term helps the Coyotes. Turco probably has one more season in him, while goalie of the future Mark Visentin is still a couple years away, leaving a conspicuous gap that current backup Jason LaBarbera should not be expected to fill. Tomas Vokoun should be higher up on GM Don Maloney’s list, since he’s still playing his best hockey. Plus, Turco was a fantastic mentor to Corey Crawford in Chicago this year, but LaBarbera is a vet himself. -RK
Good day Adam, With all the talk of whether or not the Canucks should trade Cory Schneider combined with some of the leaky goals Luongo let in during the final, I had a thought: Is there any chance we could see a trade featuring two high-priced guys in need of a change of scenery, such as Luongo for Alex Semin? It could make both teams pretty scary if you ask me.
Spezz Blackwell, Montréal
And a good day to you, Spezz.
I have to disagree with you about Alex Semin needing a change of scenery and Vancouver needing another scorer or Washington needing a goalie, but I’ll stick to Semin.
From everything I’ve heard, he’s happy playing in Washington. Some may think his successive one-year contracts speak to the opposite, but the single-season pacts are Semin’s idea and Caps GM George McPhee has said the team is comfortable with them as well. Would McPhee like to have Semin locked-up long term? Sure, but he likes the cap flexibility more. For Semin, he’ll be able to maximize his value (in D.C. or elsewhere) when the next collective bargaining agreement is worked out following the 2011-12 campaign. No 24 percent rollback for him.
As for Luongo, there are a couple of sticking points to any potential trades: a contract that runs through 2022 with a cap hit north of $5.3 million and the very reputation to which you alluded. No question Luongo is a great goalie, but he has yet to put his team on his back in the playoffs. Vancouver’s Cup loss wasn’t wholly Luongo’s fault, but if the Canucks had won, it wouldn’t have been because he led them to the Promised Land either.
Pundits are already opining about a Luongo trade, but it won’t be easy moving him. There are a number of teams who can afford him (cap wise, if not internal budget-wise) and a number of teams who need an elite goalie, but until he’s won a post-season series or two himself everyone will be wary of putting their long-term eggs in his basket. (And the Olympics don’t count; they’re a completely different animal.)
Finally, is trading Luongo really the best scenario for Vancouver? He’s up for the Vezina Trophy this year, don’t forget. And for all the Cory Schneider hype out there, he’s still a guy who, at 25, has just 35 NHL games under his belt. Are the Presidents’ Trophy-winning, all-the-way-to-Game-7-of-the-Cup-final Canucks really going to put their pipes in his unproven charge? Probably not, but he’s a nice backup to have around. –JG
Adam, I know coaches put out more than three forwards on a power play sometimes. What I'm wondering is why don't they put out more than two defensemen on the penalty kill once in a while or when preserving a lead at the end of a game?
Christian Mueller, St. Louis
For the most part, forwards are better skaters than defensemen, which is an invaluable trait on the penalty-kill. Even if you’re preserving a lead, you want your best skaters out there to switch up coverage, chase loose pucks, dart across ice to block a shot, etc. You’re not putting yourself at a disadvantage in any way with forwards on the ice the way you do if there is a forward on the point of the power play who all of a sudden finds himself defending a 2-on-1. Usually, the better skaters among defensemen are offense-minded anyway, which defeats the purpose of putting them out there to kill a penalty. Not to mention you’d be taking a defenseman out of his element when you have the option of going with a forward who has played the position his whole life. -RB
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