Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Vancouver Canucks, we pick…goalie Roberto Luongo.
Full disclosure: we were going to pick Ryan Kesler for this, because 1) there’s quite a bit of pressure on Kesler to return to form, and 2) everyone’s kind of sick of the Canucks’ goaltending saga.
But we just couldn’t do it — nobody’s under more pressure this season in Vancouver than Luongo, for these reasons:
1) His reputation is on the line. Earlier this month, he said his goal is to “get back to where I was two years ago and re-establish myself as one of the best in the league.” Luongo finished the 2013 season with a .907 save percentage, his lowest mark since his rookie season with the Islanders.
2) There’s no legitimate Plan B for the Canucks. Vancouver’s backup is probably going to be Eddie Lack, a 25-year-old who’s yet to make his NHL debut and is coming off hip surgery. Which is to say, Lack is no Cory Schneider. Not yet anyway. If Luongo isn’t good, the Canucks could miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
3) The Olympics. Luongo wants to play for Team Canada again. “This is a big year for me,” he said. “I have been sitting on the bench for a while and I want to show everybody what I can do. We all know it’s an Olympic year so I just want to make the best of it.”
On top of all that, Luongo’s long-term future in Vancouver is far from clear, even though the 34-year-old is signed through 2021-22. Remember, the Canucks still have one of their compliance buyouts remaining. And while ownership was obviously loathe to use it this past summer, if Luongo struggles badly this season, the pressure from fans (a.k.a. customers) to use it next June will be immense. Vancouver hockey fans pay some of the highest ticket prices in the NHL. In return, they expect ownership to use its deep pockets to put the best team possible on the ice.
But that debate can wait for later, if necessary. (We don’t even want to get into the whole “Luongo might not actually mind getting bought out” angle.)
Luongo, by the way, didn’t get off to the best start in the preseason; on Wednesday, he allowed four goals in the first 12:24 versus the Oilers, including this stinker:
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
He was bought out by Carolina last week.
Jul 5, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
He’ll make $650,000 at the NHL level and $250,000 in the AHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Hearings will take place in Toronto from July 20 to August 4
Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
It’s reportedly a two-way contract worth $600,000.
Jul 5, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
The deal will reportedly pay him $4.1 million next season.
Jul 5, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT
His peak came in 2013-14: 19 goals, 51 points.
Jul 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Perhaps Blue Jackets prospects can learn from his scrappy ways.
Jul 5, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Some depth for the Bolts.
Jul 5, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT
He shared his story (and struggles) this past week.
Jul 5, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT
It may leave them in a “cap vise.”
Jul 5, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT
That doesn’t guarantee that a hearing would take place, though.
Jul 5, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
Brandon Dubinsky is the latest to pipe up.
Jul 4, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
Vancouver started its development camp this weekend.
Jul 4, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT
His offensive totals were down, but was regularly used on penalty kill.
Jul 4, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT
Spent most of the 2014-15 season in the OHL.
Jul 4, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT
They had agreed to terms last weekend.
Jul 4, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT
Played 37 games with Edmonton last season before getting sent back to the WHL.
Jul 4, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT
He signed with Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Jul 4, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT
Both received two-way deals.
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 10
- Report: Plotnikov paid $500K to get out of KHL contract 12
- Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov 11
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 22
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 24
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 74
- Locked in: Columbus signs Saad to six-year, $36M deal 28
- Oilers sign McDavid to entry-level contract 29
- ‘Hawks would like to re-sign Oduya, but still working through ‘financial hurdles’ 17
- Trade: Caps acquire Oshie from Blues for Brouwer, Copley and draft pick 73
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (131)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 (74)