Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo went public on Tuesday, stating in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the Florida Panthers are on the top of his list of trade destinations.
Luongo was drafted as the fourth overall pick by the New York Islanders in 1997, but he was traded three years later to the Panthers.
Once in Florida, Luongo posted a record of 108-154-32-9 over five seasons. Following the 2005-06 season, Luongo was traded to Vancouver, where his record improved significantly to 224-115-41 in six seasons as a Canuck.
While Luongo improved as a goalie since leaving South Florida, a trade that would send him back does not make much sense for the Panthers to get involved in.
Florida is coming off a trip to the playoffs—their first post-season appearance since 2000. GM Dale Tallon overhauled his team over the past couple of seasons, bringing in a plethora of talent to turn Florida into a true playoff contender.
They also appear to be fairly sound in net, with 2002 Vezina and Hart Trophy winner Jose Theodore sharing the crease with Scott Clemmensen.
Theodore is set to become a free agent next spring, while Clemmensen has two years remaining on his contract and looks ready to take over the full-time starting job.
Even though bringing in Luongo would help save Florida from finding a backup for the 2013 season, there is still the issue of having three No. 1 goalies on the roster this season.
Ideally, Florida could send Theodore to Vancouver, but there is no guarantee that the Canucks would want to bring in an older goalie to back up Cory Schneider. It may make more sense for Vancouver to bring in a younger goalie through the farm system to groom him for the future.
What Vancouver could use is a depth right winger to play an energy role. Unfortunately, the Panthers are not exactly swimming in wingers.
Either Jack Skille or Peter Mueller might be viable options to pick up, but both players have one year left on their contracts. That means the Canucks will be rolling the dice on players who may spend only one season in Vancouver.
The Canucks are very close to the salary cap, with only $2.43 million available under the current cap system, http://capgeek.com/charts.php?Team=29. While trading Luongo would free up $5.33 million for the Canucks, they will have 11 other players with expiring contracts next summer that will need to be taken care of—not including any expiring contracts they bring in with a trade to Florida.
The team that would be more mutually beneficial for a Luongo trade would be somewhere like Toronto. The most ideal trade might be for the Leafs to give up James Van Riemsdyk for Luongo.
That way the cap hits for both players would be close to negated, and it would save Vancouver from having an entire lineup of players to re-sign.
Another option for the Canucks could include the other team in Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning could use a high-profile goalie like Luongo, but they just do not have very much to give up if the asking price climbs too high.
On the other hand, any team that brings in Luongo would not have to worry about his contract. It will not expire until 2022.