There aren't many events in Vancouver's history that are worthy of being called "monumental" but six years ago today was certainly one of them.
On the eve of the NHL draft, the Canucks sent maligned power forward Todd Bertuzzi to Florida on Friday and acquired goalie Roberto Luongo in the five-player trade.
Vancouver also got defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick in the deal that sent young goalie Alex Auld and defenseman Bryan Allen to Florida.
Since this trade involved a few different pieces and changed Vancouver's landscape for the past several years, let's take a quick look back at this blockbuster.
This was good ol' donuts' finest moment before the franchise unceremoniously booted him out the door two years later. Nonis dealt with the lockout and brought back Naslund to help keep the team afloat but with Crawford and Cloutier still in tow the team finished 9th in the West in 2005-06. So when word leaked through that GM Mike Keenan was dangling his headache (Luongo) Nonis offered him his own headache (Bertuzzi) and hoped it would finally cure the franchise's headache (goaltending) in one fell swoop. Mission accomplished David.
Vancouver would roar on to their best regular season in franchise history in 2006-07 thanks very much to Luongo. The Canucks weren't particularly offensive-minded at the time so it fell to Luongo to power them into the playoffs, outlast the Stars in the first round only to drop the second round to the Ducks. The death knell came for Nonis the following season when the Canucks had a ridiculous 174 man-games lost to injury and no significant additions to the team at the deadline which lead them to an 88-point campaign, their worse total since 2000. After being cut loose Nonis followed Burke to Anaheim and then Toronto where he remains as Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations though his contract ended this year.
It shouldn't be lost in the history books that Nonis also drafted Schneider, Edler, Hansen, Bourdon, Raymond and Grabner (he also took Patrick White and Taylor Ellington in the disastrous 2007 draft but so be it).
Keenan had been at the helm in Florida (first as coach and then GM) for a few seasons but never enough to push the Panthers out of the Southeast basement or above 75 points. Rumors swirled that he and drive the wedge between the player on the club:were having a battle of wits for who could be the biggest dog in their shared yard. Like Trevor Linden or Brett Hull before him, it's likely Iron Mike rubbed Luongo the wrong way more than once, but it was Luongo's pending new contract on a financially conservative team that seemed to
"I think it's a very good day for the Florida Panthers," Keenan said. "We tried and worked very hard at resolving a contract situation with Roberto Luongo. As an organization, we made a decision we had to move forward and doing so satisfied a lot of the needs that we had."
Of course that "very good day" was very short lived for almost everyone on Florida's side, starting with Keenan who quit as GM by that September and landed in Calgary shortly there after. He was fired from the Flames in 2009 and now works as a commentator (ugh) for MSG.
Auld came off the bench to capture Vancouver's heart (briefly) in 2004 when he won the starting gig over an injured Cloutier and a hapless Johan Hedberg, helping push the VAN/CGY first round series to seven games. Auld returned to the Moose during the lockout - a team where he held the franchise record for wins and shutouts before Schneider was around - and then was on board to back up Cloutier in 2005-06. Once Cloutier went down with his zillionth ACL injury, it was all Auld who posted 33 wins in 67 games that season. Keenan liked what he saw from the youngster:
"He's [Auld] an individual that stepped into a difficult situation this year and proved he's a No. 1 NHL goaltender," Keenan said. "When you look at them side-by-side, his numbers are very close to Roberto's, although I'm not making comparisons between one goalie and the other."
...probably best not to make that comparison. Auld would post his worst numbers to date in 27 games in Florida, a season in which Eddie Belfour may have slugged him once or twice. Since then Auld has donned his Mike Sillinger clothing and played on six teams (Phoenix, Boston, Ottawa, Dallas, New York Rangers and Montreal). He lost the starting slot in Ottawa last year to Anderson and then Ben Bishop and hits the summer as a UFA.
If Nonis sold high on Auld then Keenan equally got him to sink his teeth into Krajicek who was coming off his best season and his first at the NHL level after cutting his teeth with the San Antonio Rampage. Krajicek provided Vancouver with a warm body who could slide up and down the pairings, playing two seasons and notching 27 points in about 110 games. He was a solid, if unspectacular, player but like almost everyone on Vancouver's defense in 2007-08 he was injured and only played in 39 games. Early into the next season he was traded to Tampa Bay along with Juraj Šimek for Michel Ouellet and Shane O'Brien. Krajicek played two seasons with the Bolts before landing with the Flyers at the deadline where he was part of their 2010 Cup run (where his play was heavily compromised by current Canuck Ryan Parent). Last summer he inked a deal with HC Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.
Jesus Allen is 31 years old! I'm allowed to be shocked since we saw bouncing baby Bryan grow as Vancouver's first round pick in 1998. The 6'4'' rookie eventually played his first games in the 2000-2001 campaign (the lofty Drake Berehowsky days) and made the roster for good by 2003 (the spine-tingling Bryan Helmer days). I remember Allen as the huge body on the PK with the hope was he'd eventually develop into a Chris Pronger-type player (besides how else do you find such a player? Sign his brother?). When he was announced in the deal, you knew the huge shutdown D man was exactly what Keenan wanted. With the exception of 2008-09 where a knee injury sidelined him all season, that's exactly what Allen gave the Panthers. At the 2011 trade deadline he was moved to Carolina in a bit of a salary dump where he played all 82 games last year. Fun footnote: this also means Allen has not been back in the playoffs since the Canucks in 2003-04. I say again...Jesus.
The Shark ended up being the sixth round toss in selection at 163rd overall). Shirokov looked like another middling prospect who would never see NHL ice until a KHL kerfuffle pushed the shifty winger to North America. He arrived with some fanfare and lofty predictions but his few games in 2009 weren't anything special. He played two games in 2010-2011, scoring his first and only NHL goal against Colorado. He continued to light it up at the AHL level but never seemed to adjust well to the North American game. Last summer his rights were exchanged (with who else but Florida) in exchange for Mike Duco's. He's back overseas playing for CSKA but it's always possible Florida can entice him back across the pond. Maybe.
One of the two centerpieces in the deal, Bert made an immediate splash in his first game as a Panther before bowing out to back spasms and eventually surgery that sidelined him most of that season. Before he was healed Florida moved him at the deadline to Detroit making the Luongo swap in hindsight horribly lopsided for Vancouver. Florida received Shawn Matthias in the deal who has played five seasons with the Panthers but is "expendable" heading into this summer. Florida eventually bundled another pick in that deal to trade for Vokoun in 2007. Meanwhile Bertuzzi bounced around between Anaheim the following season and then Calgary before settling again in Detroit where he's been for the last three seasons. Bertuzzi never returned to the torrid production from the WCE days between 2001-2006 (he remains #9 on Vancouver's all time scoring list). While he's found a home in Detroit, the fallout from the Steve Moore incident still follows him and the Canucks to this day.
I'm writing this a few days before the draft so it's possible Luongo has moved on to the next chapter. I don't think we need to recap every single moment of his six years here, but now that we've gone through the cast of characters involved in the deal it's clear Luongo is the only premiere player left standing. The knocks against him (the contract, the captainship, the torchings in Chicago and Boston, the tire pumping) will follow no matter where he goes, but what should also accompany him is just how good he's been on a team that frankly hasn't had much to brag about in that position. From a career perspective he is six shutouts away from tying Patrick Roy, maintains a top five save percentage and unless he falls off the map will almost certainly pass Vanbiesbrouck, Vernon, Osgood, Hasek and Fuhr in total wins. Assuming Schneider is the next step in Vancouver's evolutionary chain, he's got a long way to go before his resume resembles his mentor's.