Now that the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings, the one question that comes up now regarding the summer is simple:
Where does Roberto Luongo go now?
There was no secret about Toronto’s desire for Luongo and the rumors persisted for the better part of a year that he could wind up there. Now with Toronto out of the picture (unless GM Dave Nonis decides to get really crazy), the field of teams that could go after the high-priced Canucks netminder is axed by one. Here are a few candidates:
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro isn’t the answer and Evgeni Nabokov is an elder statesman who looked weak in the playoffs. He’s also a free agent this summer. The Isles also have a disgruntled prospect who reportedly wants out in Nino Niederreiter who would make a great trade chip. The two teams have been linked before, so why not send Lu back to the Island?
Florida Panthers: Another former stomping ground for Luongo. He still lives there in the offseason and he even asked to be moved there last year. The Panthers’ incumbents next season are Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom and the latter struggled last season but the Panthers were also terrible. Luongo with a young team poised to climb like Florida would be a heck of a coup.
Phoenix Coyotes: So say the team gets a new owner and they’ve got money to burn. Sure they might bring back free agent Mike Smith, but hey, why not Luongo? He’d thrive in Dave Tippett’s system and we’re sure he’d love life in the desert or Seattle. This is a total stab in the dark, but if the team did move to Seattle he’d provide a big name and a reasonably familiar face.
Philadelphia Flyers: Ha ha ha ha… No, I don’t think so. Besides, they’ve already got Ilya Bryzgalov’s monster contract they might buy out this summer.