Is Roberto Luongo Shunning Toronto?
According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has declined to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Chicago Blackhawks for that matter.
Given the fact that Luongo makes his off-season home in Florida, many feel he is trying to leverage his no-trade clause in an effort to force a trade to the Florida Panthers.
Everyone likes home cooking, and Luongo already knows what it’s like to be a Panther as he previously played in Florida from 2000-01 through 2005-06.
With Luongo recently having to endure a ton of scrutiny from the Vancouver media and fans, he may very well want to pass on an opportunity to play in Toronto where the media and fans can eat a player for breakfast.
Despite his critics, Luongo has proven over his career to be an all-star caliber goaltender, although he has endured his fair share of failures in the playoffs.
For their part, Florida is said to be interested in the services of Luongo, so there may very well be a fit here. That said, with Luongo potentially forcing Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis’ hand, Gillis may be forced to keep Luongo or play hardball with him in an effort to maximize the return on the disgruntled goaltender.
Florida currently employs Jose Theodore to man the pipes. With backup Scott Clemmensen about to test free agency, it would appear that Florida will be in the market for a goalie this summer—but can they afford Luongo?
While Luongo still has 10 years left on a 12-year, $64-million contract, money will not be an issue for the Panthers who have much better ownership of late and an estimated $29,655,500 in cap space (based on a $70.3 million salary cap) with which to sign players this summer.
With a cap hit of $5,333,333, Luongo would barely put a dent in that $29+ million Florida has available, so perhaps a move to sign Luongo makes sense?
One thing is for sure, if Luongo will only accept a trade to Florida Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke will have to turn his sights on another veteran goaltender this off-season, or put his faith in two relatively unproven goaltenders in James Reimer and Ben Scrivens.
For many NHL players, Toronto, while attractive to some, is becoming a hard place to sell—especially when you take into account the franchises recent futility and the uncertainty surrounding the direction of the team, both in the short and long term.
Is Luongo shunning Toronto? Probably, and that might not be a bad thing Maple Leaf fans!
Until next time,