Should anyone want Luongo?

One of the most significant stories of the first round of the playoffs is the early departure of the Vancouver Canucks and the resulting question mark surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future with the Canucks.  With young super prospect Cory Schneider out playing Luongo for arguably the second straight playoff it puts Luongo’s future with the Canucks in doubt.  As of now it seems apparent that Luongo is looking for a new start and the Canucks organization is probably looking more to Schneider than Luongo as their goalie of the future.  There is a lot of speculation about which teams might be interested in Luongo (Tampa, Toronto, Chicago, San Jose, New Jersey are some of the suggested locations) but to me the greater question is, should anyone even be interested in Luongo?

The easiest method to evaluate goalies is their save percentage but because of situational and score effect differences maybe the best save percentage to use is 5v5 close zone start adjusted save percentage.  The following table shows Luongo’s 5v5 close zone start adjusted save percentage over the past 5 seasons along with his rank among goalies who have played at least 1000 minutes of ice time.  I have also included his save percentage and rank among goalies with 3000 minutes over the past 3 years combined.

Year Sv% Rank
2007-08 91.10 17/27
2008-09 92.25 9/26
2009-10 91.57 15/30
2010-11 91.43 17/28
2011-12 91.36 17/31
2009-12 (3yr) 91.45 17/25

As you can see, Luongo is basically a middle of the road goalie and has been consistently a middle of the road goalie for the past 5 years.  Now, for about 10-15 teams, that would be an improvement on their current goaltending situation and for a few teams a significant improvement, but the question becomes, at what cost?  As I am sure everyone reading this is well aware, Luongo has a monster contract.  He is 33 years old and has 10 more years on his contract with a cap hit of $5.333M each year and his actual salary is $6.714M for the next 6 seasons before it begins to tail off.  That is a lot of money and term to commit to an aging (though no signs of declining performance yet) middle of the road goalie who will not likely live up to expectations the near term and will certainly not live up to expectations over the long term.

How this plays out is anyone’s guess.  In my mind, Luongo’s contract is not probably worth trading for, even if Luongo presents a significant improvement over a teams current goaltending situation.  One could argue that acquiring Luongo could put the Leafs and Lightning in a playoff spot, but the long term risk is huge and the ability for Luongo to consistently take a team deep into the playoffs has to be questioned, even in the next few years.  That said, I am sure there will be general managers out there that believe that Luongo is top tier goalie because his actual overall save percentage is pretty good and I am not sure how many of them will adjust for situational and score effects.  The question is, will that even be enough for them to overlook his contract.  I don’t think it will be easy for the Canucks to trade Luongo but I suspect they will find someone will take a chance on him.

(Update:  Read this for why adjusting for zone start is important and how I do the adjustment)

This article has 6 Comments

    1. I have included links to the full lists in the table in the post. List is sorted by opposition shooting percentage in ascending order, which is equivalent to goalie save percentage in descending order (just subtract OppSh% from 100 to get save percentage).

  1. David usually yr bang on ..but a few considerations here

    First: lets compare Lui to Lundqvist (the best goalie over this time period?)

    7th, 15th, 16th, 17, 12
    only once in top ten & ave 13.2
    Lui ave 15th

    Not a huge difference? Would Lundqvist be worth it?
    Not much to choose (using yr method) btw top goalie and “middle of the road”

    Also, Lundqvist playoff record is much worse than Lui

    Before this year, Lui has been the most valuable to his team in playoffs since lockout

    His goal support in playoffs is a ridiculous ~2.38
    Thomas Fleury 3.1+

    check full post /arguments here:

    also, there is issue of shot quality Since 2008 Lui has played behind much worse defence and a team that is constantly looking to score
    for example Ken K. found in 2010 report (below)
    Vancovuer 5th worst?

    Lui can play 60+ games each and every season and maintain solid/consistent numbers
    for most non-playoff teams this is 10-12 points
    the differnce btw missing and making playoffs
    With the east being as weak as it is one could easily see Lui taking TB or even Toronto to 2 or 3 rounds worth $$ to a team like toronto.

    His age is an issue but he is very hard worker and I feel a team would get 4-5 years of value.

    1. Luongo is a good goalie, probably a very good one, and would make the Leafs and Lightning much better for the next 3-4 years, maybe 5 if you are lucky. Beyond that for the final 5 years of his contract, who knows. The problem with Luongo is not his talent level, nor his salary cap hit, not his actual salary (for the Leafs anyway), it is the term of the contract. Somehow you are going to have to deal with that contract ~5 years down the road.

      1. Agree with everything here…I took your post to suggest Luongo was a middle of the road goalie,I think this is not correct. But, 4 yrs of respectability after not making the playoffs in 7? years for Toronto, might just be worth it?

  2. Also Lui most likely faces more PP shots since the Nucks have been in the top ten ‘times shorthanded’ for 6 years running.(Coach to blame very undisciplined)

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