Before I start this article, I want to preface it with the fact that TSN's Bob McKenzie has tweeted today that the Islanders may be interested in bringing back the 34 year old goaltender, assuming they decide to not resign Evgeni Nabokov.
For those who don't know, Roberto Luongo actually started his NHL career on the Island in 1999, after being their first round pick in 97. At the time, he was the highest picked goalie in NHL history, a record that would be broken a few years later by these same Islanders. They picked Rick DiPietro, and traded Luongo to the Florida Panthers. He would play there until the 06-07 season where he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. He was named the captain of the team, despite NHL rules not allowing goaltenders' to be captains. In 2009, he signed a 12 year deal, worth $64 million. Normally, a deal like this would cement him as the future goaltender there, but Corey Schneider showed up around the same time Luongo stopped doing so. In the lockout shortened season, he'd been relegated to backup duties, and since last offseason he'd been open about his desire to play elsewhere. Many people have seen his contract as almost unmovable, but the Islanders are apparently looking to change that- however, they'd also be moving their unmovable contract.
According to Bob McKenzie, the Islanders would move Rick DiPietro and his albatross deal, along with some other assets in order to bring the 34 year old goaltender back home. Many people have mixed emotions about this, and my opinion on the matter is quite simple- I will gladly take almost any goaltender who is an upgrade to what the Islanders currently have, depending on the price to get them. This year, the obvious candidates for potential goaltending replacements are Luongo, Jonathan Bernier, and Ryan Miller. Luongo is the eldest of the three, but he is also the most accomplished (with the exception of Bernier winning a Stanley Cup as a backup. His stats last season were average at best, and he didn't even play a game in the playoffs). Personally, I would be happy if any of the three were to come to the Island, but the reason why Luongo may be the most likely is because of the fact that the Islanders would be able to shed DiPietro's contract, while retaining their amnesty. Also, Luongo has been on the block for the longest of the three, so the desire to move him is great. It has also been said that if the Canucks are unable to find a trade partner, that they would amnesty him, which lowers his trade value even further. If Garth Snow were to offer a later pick in the draft plus a marginal prospect, the Canucks may be forced to accept the deal in order to get something of value for the three time Vezina Trophy Finalist. The values for guys like Bernier or Miller would be much higher. The Kings could command a lot for an extremely promising 24 year old who had a GAA of under 2 this past season. Ryan Miller's Sabres are about to enter rebuilding mode, and will most likely sell to the highest bidder- and the auction could get costly if he's packaged with superstar Thomas Vanek. So, assuming what the package put together for the one time Islander netminder would be fair, it could be the smartest decision to buy low on Luongo.
Obviously, other options could also arise if other teams decide to amnesty players, such as the Flyers potentially amnestying Ilya Bryzgalov. He knows the division since he's spent two seasons there, however they've been disappointing. If they were able to pick him up for next to nothing, it could be wise to sign him. However, this is purely speculation, and there are a lot of things that could happen.
How do you feel about the Islanders potentially perusing Luongo or another goaltender? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me @tartmaster.