It’s been the summer of trade rumours for Roberto Luongo, the first since he arrived in Vancouver six years ago. After the signing of Cory Schneider, the writing is on the wall and he knows it. Recently he confirmed what everyone knew all along:
At the end of the day, it’s time to move on and I’m okay with that
And there it is. If there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind, Luongo will be traded. But where? Well, as everyone knows, Luongo would welcome a trade to the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers are a place Luongo would like to go first and foremost because his wife is from there. He used to play for the Panthers and likely has friends still in Miami and is comfortable there. Also, the Panthers appear to be a bit of a team on the rise. They made the playoffs for the first time in a long time last year, and have a handful of good young players that should improve. As far as Florida is concerned, Luongo is definitely an upgrade on their current goaltending tandem of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. With Luongo in net, they likely assure themselves another year in the playoffs, with a better chance at making some noise. Luongo is also a big name in Florida from his previous tour of duty with them (where he was easily their best player).
The Panthers are rebuilding. Yes, they made the playoffs last year, but they did so with a lot of veterans on their team. One of the biggest parts of their rebuild includes Jakob Markstrom. Markstrom is a 22 year old former 2nd round draft pick and has been brought along slowly by the Panthers. He has already excelled in the AHL and has even got some pretty impressive numbers in his limited action (8 games) in the NHL. Acquiring Luongo and his monster long contract probably doesn’t make sense if Markstrom steps into the spotlight this year or next as is expected.
I don’t think the Panthers will want Luongo. But if they do, expect guys like Tomas Fleischmann and Sean Bergenheim to be involved. Sure, the Canucks would love to get their hands on the likes of Weiss, Kulikov or Gudbranson, but the Panthers don’t need Luongo, so they’re not desperate. They want to keep all the young/cheap/good players they can.