Trade Bait: Roberto Luongo

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The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday, April 3. Following is a player that may be moved. For more “Trade Bait,” click here.

Much has happened in the four years since the Vancouver Canucks announced they’d signed goalie Roberto Luongo to a long-term contract that would keep him club property through 2021-2022.

The Canucks went all the way to Stanley Cup finals in 2011, losing to the Bruins in seven games. Luongo, 33, was both brilliant and brutal in that series, though it was the brutal that most people remember.

A new CBA has since outlawed the type of contract Luongo received.

But most importantly so far as this story is concerned, Cory Schneider has emerged as the Canucks’ number-one netminder.

“It’s been a great six years, but it’s time to move on,” Luongo said this summer after Schneider took over the starting duties in Vancouver’s first-round playoff loss to the Kings.

Except, of course, he hasn’t moved on. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, unable to get the deal he wants, has kept Luongo, tacking on another chapter to the soap opera.

All the while, the club has remained adamant it won’t be giving Luongo away.

“We need a third-line center, but no one is going to steal Roberto from us,” assistant general manager Laurence Gilman told TSN recently. “We’re not moving him for a rental. We need something for today and tomorrow.”

Toronto has been the most discussed potential destination of late, with center Tyler Bozak — a pending unrestricted free agent — being the name that pops up most as far as a return is concerned.

But the Leafs, like other teams looking for a long-term fix in net, have options. Other goalies that could be targeted include Ottawa’s Ben Bishop, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, and L.A.’s Jonathan Bernier.

The Leafs could also choose to do nothing and stick with the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Or, they could seek a short-term insurance policy like Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff or Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin.

That’s not to say Toronto is the only team that may may be looking to address its goaltending, either now or in the offseason. Tampa Bay, Florida, Washington, and New Jersey are but four teams where the position is, at the very least, unsettled for the future. Philadelphia is another, though the Flyers already have a goalie signed to a long-term contract.

If the Canucks don’t move Luongo by Wednesday’s deadline, they’ll go into the playoffs with almost $10 million in cap space dedicated to goalies.

“From an efficiency standpoint, to have $9.33 million invested in two goaltenders when only one of them can play is clearly not the most efficient use of resources” Gilman said. “That being said … Roberto is still in the prime of his career and can stabilize a NHL team for years to come. That’s an asset that’s extremely hard to come by. It would be foolish for us to trade Roberto for a rental player.”

Update (4:34 p.m. ET):

Report: Dwight King could be KHL-bound

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Dwight King, the burly forward that won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, may be on his way to Russia.

Per News 1130 in Vancouver, King is set to sign in the KHL after failing to land a contract this summer. The 28-year-old finished last season in Montreal after spending the first seven years of his NHL career in Los Angeles.

For a time, King was an effective skater for L.A. He posted a career-high 15 goals and 30 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and followed that up with a 13-goal, 26-point effort the year following. He also had a nice showing during the Kings’ 2014 Cup run, finishing with 11 points in 26 games.

King’s biggest issue is his skating ability. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he was never the fleetest of foot, but had been working on his speed this offseason.

More, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

King is still looking for work after finishing the season in Montreal. There are a few Western Conference teams poking around.

“I’m just looking for an opportunity at this point. I’m going to be on the ice more this year, doing a little more skills and skating. Any bit of improvement I can find.”

King is going to try a couple new teachers, then decide which route to take. One also works with former teammate (and new Golden Knight) Brayden McNabb. King is quite the physical specimen, but will take a new approach. He regularly played at 230–231 pounds, but is going to go to 225–226. And he believes the Western Conference is better for him.

News 1130 reported that Vancouver had shown “mild interest” in King, who just wrapped a three-year $5.85 million deal with a $1.95M cap hit.

King appeared in 17 games for the Habs after being picked up at the deadline last season, scoring once. He went pointless in six playoff games.

McLellan excited about addition of ‘utility player’ Strome

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To hear Todd McLellan explain it, Ryan Strome could be wearing many hats next season.

That’s what the Oilers head coach said on Wednesday of the former Isles forward, acquired earlier this summer in the Jordan Eberle trade. McLellan expressed excitement over Strome’s ability to play both center and wing.

“He (Strome) is a utility player,” McLellan said, per the Sun. “He has the ability to play center and has in the past. He’s been able to win faceoffs and he’s comfortable on the wing. We have the luxury of moving players around, and as the fans here know, we like to do that.”

That last sentence is clearly a reference to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl has flipped back and forth between playing as Edmonton’s No. 2 center and as a winger on the top line alongside Connor McDavid. The talented German’s had success at both, which is why Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is still unsure if Draisaitl is a center or a winger.

More: Strome pumped at prospect of playing with Draisaitl, McDavid

As for Strome, he certainly gives Edmonton some flexibility — on the ice, and on the books.

With a $2.5 million cap hit (compared to Eberle’s $6M), he’s provided Chiarelli with more cap space to get the Draisaitl contract done. And there’s also the potential for him to be a real bargain. Remember, Strome is only two years removed from a sophomore campaign in which he scored 17 goals and 50 points in 81 contests. His subsequent two years with the Isles were a disappointment, but the talent is still there.

The wildcard in all this is the fact that Strome’s heading into a contract year. He’ll be a restricted free agent next July, so the ’17-18 campaign will go a long way in determining his value… and, potentially, his future in Edmonton.

McDavid disappointed at NHL decision to skip Olympics

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TORONTO (AP) Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he’s disappointed the NHL won’t be sending players to the Winter Olympic in South Korea.

“It would have been a special group, and you’re just hopeful to be a part of it,” McDavid told reporters at a charity event Wednesday. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is. You want to be able to represent your country on the highest stage, and the Olympics is obviously the highest stage possible.”

McDavid’s comments came a day after Hockey Canada announced it was looking for non-NHL talent for Canada’s roster in Pyeongchang.

Sean Burke, the team’s GM, said Tuesday the bulk of Canada’s team will come from players based in Europe.

The NHL’s reasons not to participate in the upcoming Games include disagreements over costs as well as problems accommodating the Games during its regular season.

When asked whether there was the possibility of getting permission from the Oilers to attend the Olympics, McDavid was non-committal.

“I’m not too involved in all that stuff,” he said.

The NHL Players Association has said the league’s decision is “short-sighted.”

The NHL allowed its players to compete in every Olympics since 1998 Nagano Games, and Canada was won three of the last four gold medals.

Markov, Habs officially part ways

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Andrei Markov‘s run of 17 consecutive seasons in Montreal is over.

On Thursday, the Habs announced that Markov — who’s played all 990 of his career NHL contests with the Canadiens — wouldn’t be brought back for the 2017-18 campaign.

The news comes after months of rumblings about Markov’s contractual status. It was initially believed the 38-year-old UFA was looking for $12 million over two years, and there was a brief flirtation with the Flyers (which, it later turned out, was simply Markov’s interest in going to Philly, not the Flyers actively pursuing him).

Montreal GM Marc Bergevin stated on several occasions he wanted to bring Markov back, but only at the right price and term. That’s because Bergevin knew Markov still played an important role — despite appearing in just 62 games last year, the Russian rearguard was offensively productive, with six goals and 36 points, and averaged nearly 22 minutes per night.

That said, Bergevin also knew the financial realities. He dished out big bucks this offseason — a combined $154.8 million for Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk and Karl Alzner — and just didn’t have the money left to give Markov a big ticket.

Instead, Bergevin played it conservative in rounding out his defense, which included Tuesday’s one-year, $700,000 deal for Mark Streit. Some saw that deal as the writing on the wall for Markov in Montreal.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see where Markov ends up. If he lowers his asking price, there’s no doubt an NHL team would be interested. If he doesn’t, he could angle for a KHL deal and the opportunity to represent Russia in the upcoming Winter Olympics.