We’re now 3 days into the NHL season, and Roberto Luongo is still a Vancouver Canuck. But for how long? Cam Cole’s article in the Vancouver Sun shed some light on just that. Mike Gillis has a reputation as being a bit boring and a little standoffish with the media, but every now and then he offers up some insight or clues as to what is going on behind the scenes. In an interview with GM Mike Gillis, Cole was able to discover that the Canucks might have a few more trading partners than we originally thought.
Here’s the quote from Gillis:
We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it’s not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait. (But) we’ve been offered packages that don’t fit what our plan is, what we need… Excess salary coming back with a [throw-in] player who can’t play in our lineup. They say, ‘OK, we’ll do this, but you’ve got to take this.’ Well, we’re not taking it. We’ve had lots of proposals like that with good pieces that can help us but the other part doesn’t help us, and oftentimes they have term attached to them, so we’d just be turning around and buying out a guy.
Very interesting. Now of course, Gillis could be exaggerating this or making it up completely with the intention of driving up Luongo’s price, but I don’t think that’s Gillis’ style. The question then becomes, who is this mystery team? If it’s not who anybody thinks it is, that would presume that it’s not the heavily rumoured teams like Toronto, Florida, Edmonton or Chicago. And it has “something to do with another player”?
Speculation time! Here are three possibilities:
1) Philadelphia Flyers
I guess technically they have been mentioned recently, but perhaps Gillis isn’t checking Twitter as often as I have. The interview was conducted before the start of the season, so this makes Philly more possible. Are they waiting to see how Ilya Bryzgalov fares? It’s possible. They certainly have a number of young forwards that would interest the Canucks greatly, but Bryzgalov has a no movement clause. In order to acquire Luongo this season, they would need to get the enigmatic Bryzgalov to agree to a trade. Would Bryzgalov agree to that? I’m not even going to begin to speculate on how Bryzgalov’s brain would process that proposition. Philly is probably a remote possibility.
2) Washington Capitals
The Caps have a star studded lineup and have had Stanley Cup aspirations for a few years now, and goaltending has been an issue for them. Brayden Holtby came out of nowhere to star in the 2012 playoffs, but is he for real? He might not be, if the first game of the season is any indication. Holtby let in 6 goals on 34 shots, which should make GM George McPhee a little nervous. Perhaps McPhee told Gillis that he has interest in Luongo, if Holtby falters. If the Caps do acquire Luongo, Burnaby’s Karl Alzner would certainly interest Vancouver. Marcus Johansson is another possiblity, if the Caps were more willing to part with a forward.
3) New York Islanders
The first question with regards to the Islanders is whether or not Luongo would be willing to go there. On the surface, I wouldn’t think so because nobody else seems to want to go there. The Islanders are the team that drafted Luongo, so there’s that. The Islanders are also a good young team and should have a bright future with some of their young players. Mark Streit is slated to become a UFA this summer and has interested the Canucks in the past. If they’re unsure about getting him to re-sign, it would be a good idea to get something for him. Another veteran defenceman, Lubomir Visnovsky (who is also an upcoming UFA and currently has refused to report to the Isles) would be intriguing also. Frans Nielsen (one of the league’s most underrated players) would be a perfect fit as the Canucks’ 3rd line centre.