The New York Islanders are interested in trading for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN. Originally selected by the Islanders with the No. 4 overall selection in the 1997 NHL Draft, Luongo could find himself returning to the club if the right circumstances play out.
Under the scenario McKenzie presents, the Islanders will be gauging the interest of incumbent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. If the team can re-sign Nabokov to a favorable contract, they might opt to return with him in goal for another season. However, that's likely not the most important dynamic to the equation.
New York already has the 15-year, $67.5 million contract of Rick DiPietro on their books until the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. If the Islanders trade for Luongo, McKenzie believes DiPietro would have to go the other way. The Canucks would then use one of their two compliance buyouts on DiPietro. Of course, some may question why Vancouver wouldn't just use the compliance on Luongo. By comparison, a compliance of DiPietro would result in the club paying the player $1.5 million per year over the next 16 years. A compliance of Luongo would be $1.5 million per year over 18 years. With the exception of the two-years of relief, there is not much gain from the deal.
That's why New York would have to make the offer more worthwhile for Vancouver. Whether they could find a way to do so remains to be seen.
From a hockey perspective, the trade makes sense for the Islanders. There is a young group of players emerging, with John Tavares leading the way. Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2007, the team is making progress. One of the biggest flaws in the team's performance in the 2013 postseason was the play of Nabokov. Luongo -- by most accounts -- is still a top-tier goaltender. He could potentially fill a glaring need for the Islanders, a team which isn't concerned about the salary cap ceiling.
In addition, since the team is scheduled to begin playing at the Barclays Center in 2015, it might help lure future free agents to the club with the premise of playing with Luongo and Tavares on a prominent stage in Brooklyn. While the benefits of the potential addition are there, the true value of the deal can only be gauged once the return price is determined.
Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter is a name that has popped up. This is likely tied to the short-lived story of his asking for a trade in January. Niederreiter was not invited to training camp this season, which apparently was a point of contention. He also never played a game with the team in 2013. Some have speculated that a rift still exists between the club and player. Who knows if that's the case.
Considering the compliance buyout period begins 48 hours after the deciding game of the Stanley Cup and concludes at 5 p.m. ET on June 30 (this date is subject to change), a resolution to this situation will likely come before the start of free agency.