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):

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Penguins – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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The latest edition of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry presents quite the treat: the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both teams are at 103 standings points and each squad already punched a ticket to the playoffs. Even so, they’re dealing with mini-slumps that they’d like to work out tonight.

For all we know, this could be a preview of what would be one extremely fun, high-profile 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Either way, it’s a showcase of two premiere franchises brimming with star power.

You can watch on NBCSN, online and via NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.

Yes, NHL will share protected, available player lists for expansion draft

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We can debate all day how much the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights and others involved really want to do this, but they’re making the right choice with the expansion draft nonetheless. The league will make protected and available players lists available at the same time they’re shared with teams, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.

(The NHL tweeted out as much, too.)

Could this lead to feelings being hurt or perhaps even certain sneaky deals being scuttled? Perhaps, but those are headaches that management should be expected to absorb.

The bottom line is that an expansion draft is a dream come true for armchair GMs, rumor enthusiasts, fantasy sports fans and … really, just about anyone interested in hockey. It would be a bewildering decision to try to keep all of this information locked down, even for a league that frequently garners a reputation for choosing comfort over entertainment value.

Cotsonika reports that such lists will probably be made available on June 18, though that isn’t set in stone.

(If you’re the type to take off work if a trade deadline was exciting, you might want to start drumming up excuses/putting aside vacation time/practicing your best “I’m sick” voice just in case …)

Cap Friendly provides a handy timeline for the expansion draft process:

Goalie nods: Blues give Hutton first start in two weeks

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Even though Jake Allen has played extremely well of late, Carter Hutton will get the call when the Blues take on the Coyotes in Arizona tonight.

Some of this could have to do with the opponent. The Coyotes are playing out the string on a forgettable campaign, and have lost six of their last seven. That includes a 4-1 defeat in St. Louis on Monday (in which Allen stopped 27 of 28 shots for the win).

As mentioned above, Allen has been great in March and deserves huge praise for turning his season around. He’s gone 8-1-1 this month with a remarkable .951 save percentage, allowing a mere 14 goals over his 10 appearances.

Hutton, though, has played equally well when called upon. He’s gone 4-1-0 over his last five starts, posting a .962 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. In his last outing, on Mar. 16, he allowed just one goal in a victory in San Jose.

For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— A good matchup in Pittsburgh tonight, as the two defending Stanley Cup champions go head-to-head. Marc-Andre Fleury starts for the Penguins, while Corey Crawford goes for the Blackhawks.

— Calgary can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight so, unsurprisingly, it’ll go with No. 1 Brian Elliott. No word yet on who starts for the visiting Kings, though it could be Ben Bishop after Jonathan Quick lost last night in Edmonton.

Philipp Grubauer gets the call for Washington, after Braden Holtby led the Caps to victory in Minnesota on Tuesday. Grubauer will take on Calvin Pickard, who starts for the Avs.

Vegas wants ‘progressive’ head coach, says McPhee

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Golden Knights GM George McPhee continued to list the characteristics he wants from a head coach this week, explaining that he’s searching for a forward-thinking bench boss.

“We want someone who is very current on the game, who is progressive on how the game should be played,” McPhee said in a recent phone call with season ticket holders, per the club website. “We’re looking for that progressive guy that can really help us through the early years and help develop our team and our players.”

So, time to connect the dots.

Back in November, Vegas owner Bill Foley laid the initial groundwork for McPhee’s coaching profile, saying he wanted to hire an experienced head coach.

“He’s not looking for a first-termer,” said Foley. “Some may or may not be available. … I would say the coach that we name is going to be a recognizable individual.”

Among the names that have already been floated, many fit the above billing: Jack Capuano, Gerard Gallant, Ken Hitchcock and Michel Therrien, among others.

Vegas has already spoken with Gallant and reportedly made contact with Capuano as well, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Gallant was nominated for last year’s Jack Adams as the NHL’s top coach, and McPhee is familiar with Capuano, having worked as an adviser to Isles GM Garth Snow prior to taking the Golden Knights gig.

It’s also believed former Flyers head coach Craig Berube is being considered, along with current Montreal associate Kirk Muller.