NHL Trade Rumors: Florida Panthers Must Get Roberto Luongo Before CBA Expires

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIAugust 29, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 11: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks dives for the loose puck during the first period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Rumors about a trade involving Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo's return to the Florida Panthers have swirled all summer, and the Panthers would be smart to pull the trigger on a deal before the current collective bargaining agreement expires.

The Florida player who will likely be sent west if a trade gets done is Jose Theodore. George Richards of the Miami Herald spoke with Theodore and subsequently reported the following: 

Theodore did say, as I have as well, that with the labor uncertainty neither the Panthers nor Canucks are in any hurry to do anything just yet. Not saying a deal will get done -- but I'm not saying it can't, either.

The NHL’s CBA will expire on September 15, and there will be a lockout if a new one is not in place by this date, as noted by SportsIllustrated.com.

The negotiations thus far have suggested that there will be a massive reduction in the salary cap. Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir notes that if the current CBA continued into the 2012-13 season, the salary cap would be $70.2 million. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports via Twitter that under the most recent proposal, that number would drop to $58 million.

Proposed Salary Caps: all projected and fixed: 2012/13 - $58M 2013/14 -$60M. 2014/15-$62M. 2015/16-$64.2M. 2016/17 - $67.6M 2017/18 - $71.1M

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) August 29, 2012

It is understandable for teams to be wary about making any movement with so much uncertainty over this part of the negotiations. However, if there is a drop in the salary cap, a ton of player movement will follow as teams adjust to the new figure.

If this happens, the Panthers risk losing out on Luongo. The Canucks seem keen to make Cory Schneider their starting goalie, but will likely want to receive a backup for him in any deal involving Luongo.

This is why Theodore is an important asset for the Panthers. However, Richards notes that the 35-year-old has a no-trade clause in his contract and this could cause a complication in a potential trade.

Complications take time to work out and if every other team in hockey is making moves, another team in need of a four-time All-Star in between the pipes could end up with Luongo.

The Panthers would be smart to get ahead of the curve and get a deal done before September 15.