For better or worse? Roberto Luongo is back in Florida.
Arguably the biggest (yet surely the most shocking) deal to be completed on the deadline day 2014 centered around the one and only, Roberto Luongo. Returning to Florida was originally seen by naysayers, fans and pundits alike (myself included in the mix) as a huge negative for his fantasy value. Going from a defense headlined by Olympians, Alex Edler & Dan Hamhuis, as well as stalwart, Kevin Bieksa to one with underachieving Dmitri Kulikov, Geezer – Jovocop et al, was not deemed to be a breeding ground for a renaissance period for Luongo.
However, Luongo is playing a different tune since re-emerging in sunshine state. I can’t help but wonder what percentage of Floridians who made rare appearances at games this week, even realized he had left?! His second-coming debut with The Cats was reminiscent of days gone by with a stellar 25 save shutout! Though realistically, his next outing out against the lethal Boston Bruins rang more familiar bells as he was peppered with 41 shots – something of a nightly, weekly and annual tradition in his first go-around in Florida.
Check out Luongo’s first three game spread back in Florida (below), culminating in a nice .924% Save Percentage thus far.
This can likely be attributed to the ‘fresh start effect’, insofar as getting his headspace away from the foul environment in Vancouver into a nicer (warmer) climate. That’ll rejuvenate anyone dealing with mistreatment issues in a cold climate! (See the Heritage Classic Slap in the Face). However, with a very young team, alongside a couple wily veterans, the Panthers team is destined for yet another lottery pick this summer. As a fantasy GM and Luongo owner, only those of you in leagues counting Saves as opposed to Save Percentage stand to benefit here.
Contrast that with the first three games in Vancouver sans Luongo and stubborn John Tortorella must be wishing he showed the Two-Time Gold Medallist & Stanley cup finalist some more respect. Incumbent number #1 netminder in Vancouver, Eddie Lack has been brutal in the post-Luongo era, sporting a horrid .861% Sv Percentage with better defenders for the most part, than Luongo is now being forced to become accustomed to.
Luongo will certainly attempt to play with more consistency in his ‘new’ surroundings, after going through yet another roller coaster year in Nuck’Land. You need not look much further than comparing his Q1 performance this season vs. Q2 to see the difference in consistency. Quite certainly a lot more peaks and valleys in the second quarter of this 2013-14 campaign.
The coming years should improve for Luongo (and Fantasy owners) from a competitive outlook for this Panthers squad who have prospects coming up the ringer, especially with another top pick incoming this summer and Alexsander Barkov returning to a good bill of health. But the short term outlook is certainly worrisome, and almost certainly a value decreaser. With 16 games remaining for Florida this season, Luongo figures to start in almost all of them, given the inadequacy of Dan Ellis this year (new default back-up). I project no more than five- six victories for the man they call Bobby Lou the rest of the way unfortunately.
With Jakob Markstrom and Tim Thomas shipped out of town, at least for the first time since Autumn 2011, following Vancouver’s Cup Finals run, Luongo will be able to live completely loose, mentally and physically. He will finally no longer be intertwined in yet another controversial crease jam.
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