Zdeno Chara ; Roberto Luongo

Where could he go? A look at some of Luongo’s potential destinations


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.

Florida reportedly isn’t put off by the fact that Luongo’s contract runs through 2021-22. However, the Panthers became less of an ideal candidate when they re-signed Scott Clemmensen.

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 LeafsThere 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.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”