While there is an obvious complication in the form of an organizational goaltending logjam, the Panthers could still accommodate Luongo if they involved a third party in a swap with the Canucks.
The Panthers presently have veteran Jose Theodore clutching the No. 1 job with seasoned backup Scott Clemmensen behind him, followed by a rising star in Jacob Markstrom still fostering his game in the AHL. Markstrom was among his league's top 10 in both goals-against average and save percentage in 2011-12. He will likely require no more than one more year in the minors.
Naturally, a direct Luongo-Theodore swap would do no favors for the Canucks. Nor would the plebeian Panthers be wise to relinquish a quality skater just to satisfy a former castaway’s wish.
But if Theodore could be dangled for a team seeking reformation in the crease and could nudge a forward from that team to Vancouver, the Luongo-to-Florida proposition would gain instantaneous viability.
Granted, there are not many NHL organizations that have neither a goaltending gridlock similar to the Panthers nor an appreciable incumbent starter.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the most logical exception to that norm. The Washington Capitals—one of Theodore’s former teams—also comes to mind, but it appears they would just as soon go forward with the youthful tandem of Braden Holtby and Michael Neuvirth rather than return one half to the minors.
In Chicago, the 35-year-old Theodore—in lieu of risen-and-fallen journeyman Ray Emery—could either offer more qualitative competition with the 27-year-old Corey Crawford or supplant him as the starter altogether.
Furthermore, while Theodore has a no-trade clause on his short deal with Florida, the Blackhawks are a logical choice to persuade him to waive that. He would be going to a more certifiably competitive team and would be reunited with head coach Joel Quenneville, whom he played for with the Colorado Avalanche from late in 2005-06 to the conclusion of the 2007-08 season.
The Canucks, in turn, could seek anything from a depth forward to a draft pick from Chicago. They have already reportedly been seeking to shore up their bottom six with a free agent along the lines of Jason Arnott, but they need not consider themselves satisfied whether they ultimately land him or not (via the Vancouver Sun).
Even if only one of them is available, anybody on Chicago’s chart between Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw or Viktor Stalberg would be worth pursuing.
If the Hawks rigidly hold on to each established player, then Vancouver can at least request a draft pick or future considerations. More importantly, the Canucks can be happy to be rid of the perennial postseason disappointment who plainly stated in July via The Globe and Mail that he is ready to “move on.”
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