Some people called Roberto Luongo the best goalie in hockey not that long ago. While his star has fallen somewhat in recent seasons, he’s still among the top 10 in the game. But is he a future Hall of Famer?
First things first, in the interests of full disclosure, I want to mention a little bet I have regarding Roberto Luongo.
Early in Luongo’s tenure with the Vancouver Canucks, I wagered with THN managing editor Edward Fraser that Luongo would at some point in his career win a Stanley Cup. Fraser didn’t like the cut of Luongo’s jib and took the career disappointment side.
When Luongo was among the top two or three goalies in the game and the Canucks were a powerhouse, the bet was looking good in my favor. But now…forget it. He ain’t winning the Cup. No biggie. The bet was for ice cream and Fraser is now a vegan so it’s a painless loss.
But is Luongo’s career on a trajectory that will lead him to the Hall of Fame? That’s a tricky one.
At 35, Luongo’s best years are clearly behind him, but he is probably good for three more very good seasons and maybe a couple seasons at league average goaltending. (His contract runs another eight seasons, but I don’t think we’ll see him as a starter in his 40s.)
Despite the general perception Luongo was among the top few stoppers in the game for a good five or six-year run, he never won the Vezina Trophy. In fact, in Vezina Trophy voting over the years, Luongo was second once (to Martin Brodeur in 2006-07), third twice and fourth once. The other seasons never higher than seventh. In all-star voting, Luongo made the second-team twice.
Luongo shared the Jennings Trophy with fellow Canucks teammate Cory Schneider once, but that’s it in terms of personal awards. In terms of team decorations, Luongo has two Olympic gold (2010-starter, 2014-backup) and a World Cup title.
So from a hardware perspective, Luongo has good accomplishments, but not to Hall of Fame standards. Where he might make the grade is in all-time wins. Luongo sits 14th on the all-time list with 373. With five more seasons averaging just over 25 wins, Luongo could become just the third goalie behind Brodeur and Patrick Roy to reach 500 wins.
And how could the Hall of Fame say no to a goalie with 500 wins?
But can Luongo stay healthy for five more seasons and do the Florida Panthers have what it takes to be better than a bottom rung team in the NHL. Averaging 25 wins in 60 or so starts the next five years is attainable if the Panthers are middling or better. But keep in mind, a blah Florida team won just 29 games last season.
With his 373 career wins, Luongo is in a field of five of the top winningest goalies not to make the Hall of Fame. They are: Chris Osgood (401), Mike Vernon (385), John Vanbiesbrouck (374), Andy Moog (372) and Tom Barrasso (369).
The top-winning goalie not in the Hall is Curtis Joseph, with 454 wins. Luongo would have to get past Joseph to warrant serious Hall consideration. Like Luongo, Joseph didn’t win a Stanley Cup and was a Vezina runner-up just once. And Joseph has been Hall eligible since 2012 without a lot of apparent external campaigning.
Not many of us expect Luongo to win his first Vezina or guide his Panthers to a Cup title during the homestretch of his career. So to make the Hall, Luongo will need wins, baby, wins. At least 100 more. Can he do it? I think he can.
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This is the ninth in a series of Hall Monitor blogs. Others have been on:
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN