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article imageOp-Ed: Note toToronto Maple Leafs - you don't need Roberto Luongo

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 23, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The Toronto Maple Leafs do not need Roberto Luongo to make the playoffs or even to have an impact in the playoffs. They also don't need him going forward from this season. In other words, the Leafs don't need Roberto Luongo, period.
With the April 3 trade deadline fast approaching there's been renewed talk of the Canucks former number one goalie going to Leafland. Toronto GM Dave Nonis has fueled that talk by noting in a recent sports radio interview that if he was presented with a workable deal for a veteran goalie, he'd take it.
Reimer and Scrivens: "experience-related" goals
Nonis said he believes some of the goals allowed during his club's recent 5 game losing slide (2 in extra time) were “experience-related." Both James Reimer, 25, and Ben Scrivens, 26, had problems during that slide, but so did the whole team. So do they need a veteran goalie to get over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time in 7 seasons?
There's reason to believe they don't.
Going into tonight's game against the Boston Bruins both of Nonis' goalies have better than decent stats; in 18 games Reimer is 10-4-3 with a 2.73 GAA, 1 shutout and a .916 save percent; Scrivens has played in 17 games and is 6-8-0 and has a 2.63 GAA, a .915 save percentage and 2 shutouts. And what about Luongo? In his 15 games played he's 7-4-3 with a 2.47 GAA, a .904 save percentage and 2 shutouts.
Roberto Luongo: Less pressure, better defence
That those numbers are similar jumps out but what might not jump out is the circumstances the three have had in which to play. Luongo has had a small circus given scribes in Vancouver have repeatedly hit him with trade questions, but he hasn't felt much pressure. Indeed, arguably, now being the number 2 guy, he's had the least amount of pressure he's had in all his years in Vancouver, or the NHL.
By contrast, Reimer and Scrivens have had to deal with doubts about their ability all off-season, and all through the season to date. Luongo was certain to be traded to the Leafs at the draft last summer, so the media said, and since there has rarely been a week that something wasn't written about the Maple Leafs and Roberto Luongo. Reimer and Scrivens have also had to carry a team finding its identify, a winning identify, for the first time in years, and their every game, every save, is scrutinized ad infinitum. It all adds up to pressure, pressure that, thanks to their highly competitive natures, they've handled extremely well.
When it comes to the defence in front of these goalies, surely Luongo has the better. He certainly has the most expensive, as a check of capgeek reveals that the top four rearguards for the Canucks combine to be the most costly top four in the NHL: Jason Garrison ($5.5 million a year) Alexander Edler (5 million), Kevin Bieska (4.5 million) and Dan Hamhuis (4.25 million). That list doesn't even include Keith Ballard's $4.2 a season.
The players directly in front of Reimer and Scrivens don't add up to anything near the $23.45 million the Canucks are shelling out for those 5 defenders. And while Cody Franson has been better than expected, the reverse can be said about John-Michael Liles and Mike Komisarek; Liles was a healthy scratch 12 straight games while Komisarek has been in the press box for all but 4 games this season and this week was sent down to the AHL. Dion Phaneuf is the only Leaf defender who can match the experience and talent of the Canucks`Hamhuis, Bieska and Edler.
Toronto Maple Leafs: stay the course
So Mr. Nonis, stick with the program. Yeah, Luongo is a great talent but don't give up Nazem Kadri for a guy with a contract longer than Lady Gaga's wardrobe list. Don't even give up a Ben Scrivens straight up, either. Not even a soon-to-be UFA Tyler Bozak. Ship's headed into the postseason, let the crew keep sailing it. A seventh-round pick to have Mathieu Garon or Brian Elliot serve as insurance? Maybe, okay, fine, that might work. But no, repeat no Roberto Luongo.
After all, you're winning without him.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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