Toronto Maple Leafs: Josh Harding Re-Signs in Minnesota; Luongo a Sure Thing?

Curtis NgContributor IIIJune 19, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 11: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks dives for the loose puck during the first period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Earlier this afternoon, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweeted that the Minnesota Wild re-signed goaltender Josh Harding to a three-year deal worth $5.7 million ($1.9 million cap hit).

Long considered a good trade target for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Harding now appears to be the goalie of the future for the Wild.

Longtime Wild starter Niklas Backstrom is 34 years old and only has a year remaining on a deal that pays him $6 million annually.

Unless Backstrom is available, Harding's re-signing leaves Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks as the best and only legitimate starting goaltender on the market.

Teams that are likely to seek out potential upgrades in net include, but are not limited to: the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New Jersey Devils (for a backup to Martin Brodeur), the Chicago Blackhawks, the Tampa Bay Lightning (to replace Mathieu Garon) and of course the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Lightning recently invested a good sum to acquire Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators, so a Luongo trade for them is now out of the question.

The Blue Jackets could technically fit Luongo onto their team salary-wise if they shuffled a couple contracts around, but Columbus probably isn't on Luongo's list of desired destinations. Also, a 33-year-old goalie wouldn't exactly fit in on a rebuilding team.

That leaves Toronto as the only team he would consider playing for that also needs him and can accommodate his contract.

Cory Schneider, Luongo's soon-to-be former backup in Vancouver, is a pending restricted free agent who is due for a massive raise.

A trade to Toronto for Luongo makes too much sense right now.

From Spotsnet's Nick Kypreos:


#Canucks telling few #NHL interested teams they have multi offers on Luongo. Gillis still looking for a hockey trade rather than dump salary

— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 18, 2012


Does anyone believe that the Canucks actually have multiple offers from different teams on the table for Luongo?

The Canucks don't seem to have much of a choice right now.

Any potential trade for Luongo might not be as lopsided as some Leaf fans are hoping, but he will definitely not come at full price.

Barring any M. Night Shyamalan-like twists, Luongo seems destined to don the blue and white this fall.