The Vancouver Canucks didn’t trade Roberto Luongo during the draft weekend, but reports indicate that there was at least some discussion. From two separate reports, it appears that the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers were among the most interested parties.
(Admit it, you have “Chelsea Dagger” in your head now, too.)
Let’s start with the bizarre spectacle that would be Luongo suiting up for a city that tormented him as much as any has* in the last few years. Aaron Portzline provided this fascinating (if murky) Tweet about Luongo being traded to Chicago:
“Don’t know where this stands now, but over #NHLdraft weekend I heard G Roberto Luongo to Chicago, if the #Blackhawks could make $$$ work.”
CapGeek’s chart reveals that Chicago would have $8.23 million in cap space if the ceiling is $70.3 million next season. They also have two goalies under contract – Corey Crawford ($2.67 million cap hit) and Ray Emery ($1.15 million) – who could theoretically be part of such a move. Luongo’s $5.33 million cap hit could be pretty manageable since the Blackhawks don’t have significant players to re-sign, but obviously they might want to target a free agent or two and they’d certainly need to make sure such a lengthy commitment would be worth it.
The other major bit of rumbling revolves around a potential reunion between the Florida Panthers and Luongo. As you may recall, Luongo toiled in Florida for years before being traded to Vancouver. He still has family out there, so it makes sense that Harvey Fialkov and others are reporting that there’s some interest from both sides.
Panthers GM Tallon has kicked the tires with Canucks about Luongo but reports of deal are, “pure speculation.”
A deal would make sense – at least in the short-term. Jose Theodore only has a year left on his deal while Scott Clemmensen is a free agent, so there would be an immediate opening for Luongo. (Theodore isn’t that far removed from backup duty, either.)
On the other hand, Jacob Markstrom waits in the wings as perhaps the best goalie not currently in the NHL. If the Panthers nabbed Luongo, it’s not crazy to imagine Markstrom becoming “the next” Cory Schneider down the line.
Still, both situations make enough sense that they could happen. So far, though, it seems like they only “almost” happened.
* Aside from his own fans in Vancouver, perhaps.