It’s still not known when training camp will open, or even when the season will start, but the Roberto Luongo trade rumors are ramping up. The Toronto Maple Leafs are of course at the center of the rumors.
Luongo was interviewed on TSN yesterday and asked about the possibility of being traded, to the Leafs or to Florida, his supposed preferred destination. He obviously didn’t reveal much about the situations.
Bob McKenzie and the panel did discuss the trade possibilities further after the interview. McKenzie reiterated that there is not a deal in place that would send Luongo to the Maple Leafs, but that they are interested in him. If a deal was to be worked out between the two teams, the Canucks could be looking for a 3rd line center such as Tyler Bozak. It would likely take more than just Bozak, possibly a pick and another player.
Even if the Maple Leafs and Canucks work out a deal, Luongo still hold the hammer in his no trade clause.
The Leafs will also be monitoring which other goalies could become available. Jonathan Bernier of the LA Kings, and a goalie in Minnesota may become available.
The Florida Panthers had shown interest in Luongo before the lockout, and it’s known that he Luongo wouldn’t mind returning there. There might be budget concerns for the Panthers in taking on someone with 10 years left on their deal at $5.3 million per season. The Panthers have a veteran goalie that they could include in a deal, Jose Theodore or Scott Clemmensen. The Panthers do have one of the best goalies outside the NHL in Jacob Markstrom, who has been playing the AHL and did get a sniff of NHL action last year. Trading for Luongo would basically nullify the chances of Markstrom being a number 1 goalie in Florida for many years.
The Maple Leafs and Panthers seem to be the most logical places to land Luongo, and who he might consider being traded too. The Blackhawks and Oilers were rumored to have shown interest before, but the Canucks may not be interested in trading a number 1 goalie to a conference rival.
There is also the possibility that the Canucks hang onto Luongo for the time being. With the cap ceiling at $70.2 million this year, and with next years cap at $64.3 million, it does allow that the Canucks some time to consider their options. Having both Luongo and Cory Schneider wanting and deserving of full-time duty, it may not be most optimal situation for the team though.