NHL Trade Rumors: Florida Panthers Must Get Roberto Luongo Before CBA Expires

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NHL Trade Rumors: Florida Panthers Must Get Roberto Luongo Before CBA Expires
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Rumors about a trade involving Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo's return to the Florida Panthers have swirled all summer, and the Panthers would be smart to pull the trigger on a deal before the current collective bargaining agreement expires.

The Florida player who will likely be sent west if a trade gets done is Jose Theodore. George Richards of the Miami Herald spoke with Theodore and subsequently reported the following: 

Theodore did say, as I have as well, that with the labor uncertainty neither the Panthers nor Canucks are in any hurry to do anything just yet. Not saying a deal will get done -- but I'm not saying it can't, either.

The NHL’s CBA will expire on September 15, and there will be a lockout if a new one is not in place by this date, as noted by SportsIllustrated.com.

The negotiations thus far have suggested that there will be a massive reduction in the salary cap. Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir notes that if the current CBA continued into the 2012-13 season, the salary cap would be $70.2 million. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports via Twitter that under the most recent proposal, that number would drop to $58 million.

It is understandable for teams to be wary about making any movement with so much uncertainty over this part of the negotiations. However, if there is a drop in the salary cap, a ton of player movement will follow as teams adjust to the new figure.

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If this happens, the Panthers risk losing out on Luongo. The Canucks seem keen to make Cory Schneider their starting goalie, but will likely want to receive a backup for him in any deal involving Luongo.

This is why Theodore is an important asset for the Panthers. However, Richards notes that the 35-year-old has a no-trade clause in his contract and this could cause a complication in a potential trade.

Complications take time to work out and if every other team in hockey is making moves, another team in need of a four-time All-Star in between the pipes could end up with Luongo.

The Panthers would be smart to get ahead of the curve and get a deal done before September 15. 

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