Reports: Panthers, Blackhawks lead latest Roberto Luongo trade rumors

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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.

Panthers reunion?

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.

WATCH LIVE: Game 1 for Penguins – Capitals, Rangers – Senators

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It’s really happening.

For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.

The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.

Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: CNBC (Stream online here)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Sutter won’t retire from coaching, willing to join a rebuild

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Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.

But that’s not happening.

In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.

Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.

In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.

Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.

That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.

History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.

That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.

“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

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The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

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The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run