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Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks congratulates goalie Cory Schneider #35 after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in NHL action on November 29, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks congratulates goalie Cory Schneider #35 after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in NHL action on November 29, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

LEAFS BEAT

Luongo a good fit for the Leafs Add to ...

Let's face it, Brian Burke needs a saviour.

The Toronto Maple Leafs GM has to get his team into the postseason to stick around beyond 2013, and the biggest hole on his roster is also the most important one.

He needs a goalie, and he needs to get one without giving up much from his roster.

Enter the news of the day: Multiple reputable sources ( James Duthie, Dan Murphy, etc.) are reporting that Vancouver Canucks vet Roberto Luongo will have the Leafs on a small list of teams he's willing to accept a trade to.

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Why on earth he would want to land in the goalie (and playoff) graveyard that has been Toronto of late, who knows?

But that he does presents an opportunity for Burke to improve his roster significantly with one carefully orchestrated trade.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Luongo has been one of the better regular season goalies in the league the last few years, posting a .924 save percentage over the last two seasons that is tied for fifth best.

Even at 33, he can stop the puck – and more than anything, that's what Burke needs.

There are obviously plenty of complicating factors here, with the 10 remaining years on Luongo's contract one of the key concerns. But the Leafs aren't exactly dealing from a place of strength right now, as there's little of note available in free agency and they haven't much cap space to work with even if there was.

There's also the terrible relationship between Canucks GM Mike Gillis and Burke to work around, as well as the fact that Luongo's wacky, cap-hit bending contract is just the type the Leafs GM has railed against for years.

These, however, are desperate times, and Luongo would at least provide the team stability in goal over the next three or four years.

Which means he's not just a short term play.

What happens with his contract beyond that, well, that would likely become a problem for another general manager (and under a new collective bargaining agreement) but it's not an unsolvable one for a wealthy organization.

In the meantime, Burke could focus on filling other holes on the blueline and up front, all while knowing he's going to be getting more saves than any Toronto GM since the lockout.

Luongo is a gamble, but this is likely going to be an off-season full of them given Burke is hanging by a thread in Toronto.

Best to gamble on a proven commodity – even one with a crazy contract – than tie yourself into another year of uncertainty in the crease.

There aren't a ton of other options available, either, with Tim Thomas or Tomas Vokoun two of the other potential veteran candidates to fill in while James Reimer and Ben Scrivens continue to gain experience.

Beyond that are a lot of young goalies that come with question marks, with Jonathan Bernier, Anders Lindback and Josh Harding often mentioned.

Because he can contribute for another few years at a high level, however, Luongo should be Burke's top target. Toronto likely isn't the goaltender's first (or second) choice, so it will take a bit of a pitch to get him to fully buy in, but there is a relationship there with both Leafs senior VP Dave Nonis and goalie coach Francois Allaire.

Step 1 would likely be convincing Luongo that this team can make some progress in the standings in the near future, as he isn't getting any younger.

Step 2 would be convincing him that Toronto isn't quite the snake pit it's often made out to be, with many in the industry believing Vancouver is a tougher market to play in these days given expectations.

Those expectations are very low right now in Toronto, especially when it comes to who plays goal. If Luongo is seriously considering coming to the Leafs, they should be serious about trying to get him.

They're running out of other options.





<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>Leafs goaltenders (and Luongo) since the lockout*</h5><iframe src='http://www.theglobeandmail.com/static/test/charts/google/google_iframe_04.html?id=000&type=bar&ssid=0Ar3M_smeSBJsdF9SajdpQmthdEhkdnNvdUNTcFJUcGc&x=Save%20percentage&bm=40&lm=125&w=460&h=300' scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe><p style='text-align:right; font: 10px Arial; color: #666; margin: 3px 0 20px 0;'>*Minimum 40 games played</p>


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