Roberto Luongo wants to move on and the Vancouver Canucks have every reason to want to accommodate him.
They recently signed Cory Schneider to a three-year/$12 million extension, so their options are either to trade Luongo or enter the season with over $9 million in cap space dedicated to their goaltending.
So what are the cities that might be vying for Luongo’s services? Let’s take a look at the three big ones:
The Florida Panthers — Luongo previously spent five seasons with the Panthers and he seems very warm to the idea of returning.
Another factor is that the Panthers already have a promising young goaltending prospect in Jacob Markstrom, who might be ready to lead the team in a couple years.
None of that means that the Panthers don’t have any interest in Luongo anymore, but they’re in a strong negotiating position and I don’t think they’ll agree to a Luongo trade unless they’re very comfortable with the cost.
Toronto Maple Leafs — There was an earlier report that suggested that Luongo wouldn’t play for Toronto or Chicago. However, Canucks GM Mike Gillis recently denied that report, according to the Vancouver Province.
James Reimer is coming off a rough year, which has put some pressure on Leafs GM Brian Burke to acquire a goaltender. All the same, Reimer does have the potential to bounce back and become a solid starter. If the Leafs trade for Luongo, they would be essentially giving up on Reimer given Luongo’s contract length and that’s not necessarily to their benefit in the long run.
Chicago Blackhawks — At first glance, this is a very similar situation to the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to the Chicago Tribune, Luongo has expressed a willingness to play for Chicago.
Corey Crawford is coming off of a disappointing sophomore campaign and that’s put some pressure on Chicago to make a change. Like the Leafs, acquiring Luongo would mean giving up on using Crawford as their long-term starter.
The difference is that Chicago is a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup now while Toronto isn’t likely at that stage yet even with Luongo. He’s 33-year-old, so as it is, he’s slipping out of his prime and thus sending him to a rebuilding team might prove to be counterproductive. That’s not an issue with the Blackhawks.