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A lever over Luongo Add to ...

There's an interesting element to Roberto Luongo's new 12-year, $64 million (all currencies U.S.) deal.

It includes a no-trade clause, but not a no-movement clause. The distinction is that Luongo could be sent to the minors without his approval.

That would be inconceivable now, as he is one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, but it gives the Canucks - and whoever may be managing them in 2020 - a huge lever in the latter stages of the contract.

These decade-long deals, where the lion's share of money is frontloaded, provide salary cap savings for NHL teams, and should the player retire with term still remaining, teams can reap immense cap rewards.

But the worry, from a team's perspective, is that the player wants to hang on and play out every last year. If that never-say-die player has a no-movement clause, his team is powerless to do anything but swallow hard and let him play into his late-30s or early-40s, when his performance is presumably in decline.

That won't be the case with Luongo in Vancouver.

The final two years of his deal pay him $2-million, or $1-million per, which effectively works as a retirement-encouraging clause. But should Luongo want to eke out every last year even when his game has slipped, the Canucks could demote him to the minors. That would be a huge indignity, but it would get the team's position across quite clearly.

So, while Luongo may maintain a high level even at age 43, or while his annual cap hit ($5.33-million) may come back to haunt the Canucks in a decade or so, keep in mind that retirement - before the contract expires - is the most likely scenario.

Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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