The end of the NHL lockout has jump-started trade rumors surrounding Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. It's the team's top priority entering the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Luongo, 33, was 31-14-8 with a 2.41 goals against average and a .919 save percentage with Vancouver last season, but has been deemed expendable after losing his starting job to Cory Schneider during the Canucks' upset playoff failure to the Kings last spring. Luongo's 12-year, $64 million contract is likely a deal-killer with most NHL teams, but his 259 wins since 2005 -- second only to Miikka Kiprusoff's 273 -- will make him an attractive upgrade for some suitors.
The Maple Leafs have long been speculated to be the front-runners to obtain Luongo, but other teams -- including the Panthers and Oilers -- may be stepping up as they hastily begin camp.
"Getting assets for Luongo to repair the holes in their lineup is imperative," said TSN Hockey Analyst Bob McKenzie. "Ultimately, I think Luongo will be traded. I know the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested and the Florida Panthers have some interest as well, but the prices aren't where Vancouver wants to get them so that's a work in progress."
McKenzie also noted that the Edmonton Oilers were worth watching on the Luongo front.
Luongo is reported to favor a return to the Panthers, where he played from 2000-2006.
"I believe the Florida Panthers are going to do everything in their power to get Roberto Luongo," said TSN Hockey Analyst Darren Pang. "The Panthers know he wants to be there."The Canucks could choose to start the season with both Luongo and Schneider on the roster, perhaps increasing Luongo's trade value as teams moving up the standings look to add a proven veteran goalie for the postseason.