Holy smokes—he did it. Roberto Luongo really retired.
If you listen to Friedman's "31 Thoughts" podcast, you'll know that he has previously mentioned the idea that Roberto Luongo might retire, rather than going on long-term injured reserve, if there isn't a spot for him with the Florida Panthers next season.
He brought it up again in today's column, which posted just a few hours before Luongo's official announcement.
The Canucks’ biggest concern might be Roberto Luongo. I don’t profess to know Luongo’s final decision, but outright retirement — instead of going on the long-term injury list — is a legit possibility. Should that happen, they are looking at a cap recapture penalty of approximately $3 million per year for the next three years, with Florida at just over $1 million a year. That number would be annoying to the Canucks.
Given that there's not a thing they can do about Luongo's status at this point, I sure hope his retirement isn't their *biggest* concern. Right now, they should be all-in on assessing the free-agent market and finding the right price point for Brock Boeser—and on that, Friedman says the "outlook varies depending on who is talking, but six times $7.5 million makes sense," for what it's worth.
I admit, I always scoffed at the idea that Luongo would be the only player ever to trigger a cap-recapture penalty, but here we are.
Last week, we got word the numbers we've been eyeballing on recapture all these years were wrong:
According to CapFriendly, the Canucks are currently sitting at just over $63 million in current contracts for next season—with 22 contracts on the books including Alex Edler and J.T. Miller, but not including the deals for Boeser and whomever they hope to land in free agency, or the qualified RFAs like Goldobin, Motte and Leivo. For now, they have just over $17 million in cap space, which will go quickly if they give Boeser and a defenseman around $7 million each.
A week ago, I would have been inclined to say that a $3 million a year charge for the Canucks shouldn't be a huge deal. Now, it looks like it does matter after all. So much for weaponizing cap space.....
A reminder—the current buyout period extends until June 30. There is a second buyout period later in the summer, but eligibility is limited. It revolves around players filing for arbitration.
On the bright side—will Luongo's retirement knock the Canucks out of the Tyler Myers market? If so, we should probably thank him. I think $3x3 in recapture for arguably the franchise's greatest goalie of all time is actually more palatable to most than $7x7 for Myers.
There will be lots more to discuss on this issue but for now, let me change direction to what I'd already written for this blog before Luongo's announcement came down.
That left five players without qualifying offers: Ben Hutton, Markus Granlund, Derrick Pouliot, Brendan Gaunce and Yan-Pavel Laplante.
Laplante was a minor-leaguer who missed all of the 2018-19 season with an injury, and we heard several weeks ago that the Canucks were ready to cut ties with Pouliot and Gaunce.
It has been a long and winding road for 26-year-old Granlund, who finished with 41 goals and 69 points in 215 games over four seasons with the Canucks.
Word is that Granlund hopes to catch on with another NHL team. This stat will certainly work in his favour:
The Canucks were pretty good on the penalty kill last season, ranking 11th overall with an 81.1 percent success rate. They finished 21st one year earlier. That's an area where Jay Beagle definitely added value. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see Granlund landing with a good team in a bottom-six role.
As for Hutton, there was frantic chatter leading up to Tuesday's 2 p.m. PT deadline that the Canucks were trying to trade him, rather than simply letting him become an unrestricted free agent.
I don't quite understand how the idea of trading him can co-exist beside the idea that they might try to keep him now that they don't have to face the threat of a big arbitration ruling. Maybe the Canucks are just thinking they can bring him back on a super-low deal if no other team is interested?
In his new 31 Thoughts
, Elliotte Friedman says "It’s believed Chicago was in before landing Calvin de Haan, and Toronto’s snooped around," so there is some outside interest.
Friedman also has a couple of notes about the Canucks' shopping for a free-agent defenseman, which follows up several items I mentioned in Tuesday's blog:
I thought Jake Gardiner was out after they re-signed Alex Edler, but with Hutton in limbo, they need another lefty (Jordie Benn?). After Tyler Myers’ Sunday night visit, we all had him sleeping in Orca pajamas. I do think they are the favourite, but there is other interest — right-handed defenders are hard to find.
I feel like Thought No. 2 is aimed directly at this blog's comment section:
"I’m told a Tyson Barrie-to-Vancouver trade on the opening night of the draft was never as close as we thought."
I also have stories to share from my visit to Development Camp on Tuesday, but that's going to have to wait for the next blog.
The bare-bones summary:
• Not in attendance—Vasily Podkolzin and Jack Rathbone. Word is that Podkolzin went straight back to Russia after the draft, and Rathbone is recovering from having a cyst on his foot removed.
• In attendance but not participating in main drills—Jett Woo, Linus Karlsson and Olli Juolevi. Woo and Juolevi have been skating on their own.
Though he was knocked out of the OHL playoffs with an injury, Mikey DiPietro is back on the ice and in good spirits, as always. He had a good chat with the media, so I'll have more on him later.
I was also very happy to see Will Lockwood on the ice. He has missed the last two development camps with injuries, so the last time we saw him doing drills n a Canucks jersey was right after he was drafted in 2016, at Shawnigan Lake.
Lockwood turned 21 last week, and has definitely filled out despite all the time he has spent rehabbing his injuries. He's returning to Michigan for his senior year as captain of the Wolverines but while talking to reporters on Tuesday, he was adamant that he is loyal to the Canucks organization.
If you check out this video from Tuesday afternoon's activity at the Dirty Apron cooking school, you can catch a bit of a glimpse of Lockwood's physique. He goes last.
Stay tuned for more on the prospects, coming your way in the next blog.