In the annals of NHL trade history over the past 10 seasons, one of the most tantalizing “what-ifs” revolves around the 2013 NHL trade deadline when Brian Burke, then-General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, flirted with the idea of acquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks. Although the deal never materialized, Burke did go into detail about the trade in a tweet response back in 2020. At the time he said, “We were all in hard on Luongo around the time when I got fired,” said Burke. He added that the price to acquire Luongo was too dear but noted, “…we were in the mix.”
As the account has done in recent days, taking a look at trades that almost happened, the popular Twitter account @BigHeadHcky took a look at the deal and then tried to break down what might have happened if the trade had gone through.
The rumored deal was:
To Toronto Maple Leafs:
- Roberto Luongo
To Vancouver Canucks:
- Nazem Kadri
- Jake Gardiner
- 2013 1st Round Pick (which eventually became Frederik Gauthier)
- 2014 1st Round Pick (ultimately William Nylander)
Luongo apparently vetoed the deal but the hypothetical scenarios stemming from this trade are wild when you consider the different directions the two franchises have gone in over the last decade.
Among the more immediate dominos that Big Head Hockey assumes would be accurate is that goaltender Cory Schneider wouldn’t have been traded to the New Jersey Devils. The Canucks would have needed Schneider after the loss of Luongo and he could have gone down a different career path, potentially elevating his status as a Vancouver Canucks goaltender.
Beyond that, Vancouver’s core would have looked much different with Nazem Kadri, and potentially a player like William Nylander, and/or Shea Theodore on the roster (the draft picks Vancouver would have received likely would have meant drafting one or both of those two players). So too, with Jake Gardiner on the roster, it’s fair to ask if the team would have selected Quinn Hughes and if fans would have ever witnessed the Elias Pettersson/Hughes/ Thatcher Demko era.
The account then wonders if Bo Horvat ends up in a different destination, possibly with the New Jersey Devils instead of the Canucks.
What About the Maple Leafs?
The account suggests that with Luongo in net, the Maple Leafs might have had better odds in the 2013 Game 7 against the Boston Bruins, potentially leading to a deeper playoff run and even a shot at the Stanley Cup Finals. At the very least, a win in the first round would have changed the conversation about the Maple Leafs never getting over their current playoff hurdles and as a result, the narrative surrounding the core four.
In fact, if the assumption about the draft is correct, Nylander likely wouldn’t have been part of the “Core Four” at all. He probably would have been selected by the Canucks.
Not to mention, as a result of doing better in 2013, where does Toronto finish during the 2014 season? Do they fall so low that they get the chance to draft Mitch Marner at No. 4 overall in 2015? What about in 2016? Are they picking No. 1 and taking Auston Matthews? It’s safe to assume John Tavares still chooses the Maple Leafs in free agency, but the rest of the core might have looked completely different.
Luongo Did Move, Just Not to the Maple Leafs
Ultimately, Luongo went to the Florida Panthers and eventually retired as part of that roster. He’s still there as part of their management team and is the Special Advisor to the GM.
The “what-ifs” surrounding this trade scenario are certainly intriguing. Like any “what-if”, there are so many different ways that things could have played out, that it’s hard to really estimate the realities that would have resulted, but that’s part of the fun of the off-season and revisiting trades that did, and in this case, didn’t happen.
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