The writing’s on the wall for Roberto Luongo.
His dismal playoff performances with the Vancouver Canucks combined with the emergence of his former backup Corey Schneider in this year’s first round has led to an ultimatum: trade him or have your backup goalie taking up $5.3 million of cap space for the next 10 years. Luongo has publicly said the writing is on the wall that his days in Vancouver are numbered. It has also been reported that the top two teams Luongo would most likely wave his no-trade clause for are Toronto and his former home of Florida. Whoever lands Luongo will also be taking on the final 10 years as previously mentioned.
Coming off their first division championship in franchise history, the Panthers should be looking to improve their club even more to take the next step—something they have yet to do this summer.
Here are 10 reasons why Luongo should return his talents to south beach.
- Most importantly, the Panthers can afford his cap hit of $5.3 million with over $20 million of cap space for this year alone.
- Since Luongo’s departure, no Panthers goalie has started more games in a season; Lu is a durable netminder (in the regular season, that is) and can provide stability in what has been a revolving door in front of the crease each season since he left.
- His highest save percentage in a season came with Florida (2003-2004); obviously he’s comfortable playing in Sunrise and doesn’t mind the smaller hockey market.
- His wife and child are both from south Florida (I’m sure his spouse’s happiness will play a role in where he plays next season)
- Luongo can help with the development of recently acquired OHL goalie Michael Houser.
- He has playoff experience past the first round (although not last season) including making it to within one game of raising Lord Stanley’s Cup. This can add to the winning culture that the former Blackhawks like Kopecky, Campbell and others brought last season.
- He has won a championship at the highest of levels, backstopping Team Canada to the 2010 Olympic Gold.
- Luongo is a big name player and familiar to many Panthers fans; his return would give Florida more attention than it has previously received and further improve last year’s attendance figures.
- He could be a mentor of sorts for the recently signed Brian Houser, last year’s top OHL goalie, and a young Jakob Markstrom, (if he wasn’t sent in the trade to re-acquire Luongo) who are the Panthers top goaltending prospects.
- Most Stanley Cup contenders begin with stability in the crease (see Quick, Brodeur, Lundqvist, etc.)
There are many ways a deal could be done for Luongo. Since the Canucks will become more and more desperate as training camp draws closer, I would send a couple second rounders and either Theodore or Markstrom to sweeten the deal.