After many conversations, it appears most Leaf fans feel that Luongo coming to Toronto either wont happen or is a bad idea primarily due to the length of his contract, and secondly because he might not even want to play there.
After having failed with the Gustavsson and Reimer duo, Burke is at a point where he is desperate for a legitimate starter for the 2012-2013 season. A recent circumstance has opened a window where a legit starter has made himself available to a few teams around the league because he wasnt getting a fair shake with his respective team. This problem Vancouver has with Roberto Luongo seemingly works out for the Canucks because they believe to have a replacement for him, and can therefore afford to move him.
As mentioned, a team like Toronto is in dire need of a starting goalie because they dont have one now, and it could be a few years yet until they do. Toronto has missed the playoffs now for 8 straight years and have had some rather shakey seasons of late. Goaltending has been a problem for the young team, and Burke cant keep playing their young/unproven goalies hoping they break out as starters. Rather, these young goalies need to be molded into an NHL goalie....by....an NHL goalie. Toronto has a few pieces they can arguably afford to move for upgrades at this point without causing other problems. Burke knows he needs to address their problem between the pipes, and Luongo is arguably the best goalie "available".
Now, Luongo's contract is long
. No doubt about it. But out of all teams, Toronto isnt one of them who is financially strapped and/or has existing long term contracts. Toronto is one of the few teams who has a ton of cash and could afford to buy him out after 5-6 years if need be. Burke may not like these long term contracts, but how have the short term contracts worked for him so far...
Secondly, will Luongo even (want) to play with Toronto
? Although teams like TB and FLA are likely favorites, I dont think either of them could work out due to finances/other contracts and the fact that FLA has a young promising goalie already. Many Believe that with Luongo's wife still living in Florida that Tampa is a likely destination, however as mentioned, Tampa's finances are rather tight and they currently have a large/long term contract in Lecavalier as it is. NJ Devils could very well be a viable option for Luongo, however they mightnot have the cap space to bring in Luongo with a guy like Parise needing to be signed in addition to Kovalchuk's contract. Parise may be willing to take a discount if he knew a guy like Luongo was coming in, but even then he will require over $6M for close to 8-9 years. Parise is a franchise player and will be NJ's first priority. Consequently, Luongo may realize that Toronto may be his best bet, because frankly if he were to post numbers which hes averaged for the past 3-4 seasons, he'll be praised in Leafs Nation. Furthermore, if he were to get them into the playoffs, there would be 4 streets named after him, his Mask would be painted on the CN Tower, and every other Friday would be 'Luongo Holiday".
Being in the center of the Hockey Universe, Toronto's media can be quite harsh, but it could could very well be the best option for Luongo to step in as a starter and not have to worry about HUGE pressures to win the cup any time soon. Burke dosn't like to overpay and I dont think he would have to for Luongo, but I think he will have to pay more than a lot of fans around here think. Given our need for a goalie and center, I do however feel he could land Luongo for a fair price and yet not handcuff the team with respect to any further off season moves.
Although I feel as though his contract length is risky for this particular club, Toronto has not had any solid goaltending for many years and has a few promising goaltenders in the system who could use a proper mentor, especially one who has taken a lot of heat from the media already. I sincerely believe he could help out the team and help mentor the young goalies for a few solid years and bring back some competitiveness in this club, provided Burke dosnt get desperate in his trade talks. Luongo may not ultimately be the best option for this club, but when a player of his ilk makes himself available a GM should do more than just inquire.
The Maple Leafs have been on a proper path of late, and could be ready to compete again in a few years. The team could use some more leadership and strength especially between the pipes where they have struggled for years. Whether Luongo's play could help spike some confidence into this young team and instill some competitiveness during his tenure is unsure, but with his track record so far in the NHL you have to think he would certainly help. If Luongo has in fact listed the Toronto Maple Leafs as a team he would accept a trade to, I feel as though Burke needs to do what he can to make it happen while keeping the long term plan in mind.