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NHL Trades 2012/Free Agent News: How Does Roberto Luongo Affect Goalie Market?

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks skates out onto the ice before the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on February 28, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 2-1 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's an interesting offseason for the NHL goaltending market.

A number of teams have been looking to make changes in one form or another. All their decisions are informed to some degree by the presumed availability of the Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo.

Granted, most teams are not especially eager to take on 10 years of contract commitment at a cap hit of over $5 million a year. And Luongo has final say over where he's moved. But every goalie who re-signs with his old team or moves to a new one creates a ripple effect that impacts all the others.

The Penguins moved first, grabbing Tomas Vokoun from Washington by trade and signing him to a two-year deal for $4 million. Pittsburgh's franchise netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury, has a Stanley Cup ring but has also shown inconsistency over the years, so Vokoun provides excellent insurance.

At the draft, Columbus acquired Sergei Bobrovsky, while Tampa Bay and Boston committed to developing young goaltenders from scratch when they used their first-round picks on Andrey Vasilevskiy and Malcolm Subban, respectively. The Jets have now wrapped up Ondrej Pavelec with a five-year extension worth almost $20 million.

So who's still on the market for a netminder? And would Luongo be a fit?

After the draft, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch stirred the pot by raising the possibility of Chicago as a destination for Luongo:

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Don't know where this stands now, but over #NHLdraft weekend I heard G Roberto Luongo to Chicago, if the #Blackhawks could make $$$ work.

— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 24, 2012

Chicago could use an upgrade in net, but it's hard to imagine their fans would ever come to terms with the idea of their arch enemy in Luongo switching sides. Plus, as Portzline mentions, the Hawks are tight to the cap ceiling and it's unlikely they'd be able to fit Luongo's salary into their structure.

Meanwhile, there's not much doubt that Mike Gillis and Brian Burke have been talking. TSN's Ryan Rishaug pegged them together at the draft:

Burke and Gillis just walked off the draft floor together into the tunnel by penguins room.Clearly not a quick hello, all business. #tsn

— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 22, 2012

It appears that neither GM is yet willing to give enough to get the deal done.

The same is probably true with Florida. Dale Tallon admitted to Iain Macintyre of the Vancouver Sun that he'd talked with Gillis, and the two teams have been frequent trading partners in the past. Some say prospect Jakob Markstrom is ready to step in next year, but he has had injury issues and remains unproven.

The Panthers made out like bandits when they took on Brian Campbell's big contract last summer—he went on to have a career year. They're on the cusp of breaking through to the next level and an elite goaltender would help. Luongo's strong ties to South Florida would also be a good sell in the community—his wife's from there and they've just built a new offseason home in the area.

It's certainly plausible that Luongo would be happy with a move to the Panthers. Still, as Ed Willis of The Province points out, it's unlikely that he has vetoed a trade elsewhere at this point, because it's unlikely that any trade has been done.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon
Florida Panthers GM Dale TallonBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Canucks hit a dangerous bump in the road on July 1, when Cory Schneider becomes a restricted free agent and has a five-day window to accept an offer sheet from other teams. Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski explains that a one-year offer sheet puts the Canucks in the worst possible position, but reminds us that a player must accept an offer sheet before it comes into play.

Schneider has no reason to believe that the Canucks are not acting in good faith. They made sure he played enough games to share in the Jennings trophy with Luongo in 2010-11, gave him more valuable minutes through last season, then handed him the starting job in the playoffs even though most agreed that the Canucks' 0-2 series hole against the Kings was not Luongo's fault.

Furthermore, despite the fact that he's been a valuable trade asset, the Canucks have stuck by him at every turn.

Schneider has every reason to believe that the Canucks intend to treat him as a franchise player and as such, it's unlikely he'd try to bolt the team or put them in a financial bind by accepting an offer sheet.

As July 1 draws near, it looks like Gillis has enough confidence in Schneider's commitment to take his time on making the best possible Luongo deal. Maybe that time will help Dale Tallon warm up to the idea of trading a solid prospect for the opportunity to bring Bobby Lu back to Florida.