Roberto Luongo: Breaking Down Canucks Star's Options as NHL Season Approaches

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 7: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a glove save against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in NHL action on April 07, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 and went on to win the President's Trophy as the top team in the NHL.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Now that the lockout mess is over, fans can get back to enjoying the NHL. Already the trade talk is starting to heat up surrounding Vancouver Canucks star goalie Roberto Luongo, who could be on the move before the shortened season.

Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun reports Luongo is on the market after telling Canucks general manager Mike Gillis to do whatever he felt was best for the team. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers are two teams linked to the four-time All-Star.

The short period of time between the lockout ending and the regular season starting could mean the Canucks are forced to wait a while for a market to develop. Teams are just starting to figure out where they stand after missing an extended portion of the schedule.

As it stands, the Leafs are the most obvious option. The team lacked a franchise goaltender in recent years, which is one of the main reasons they haven't made the playoffs since before the last lockout. It's hard to win consistently without a reliable goalie.

Luongo would be a massive upgrade at the position. He finished last season with a 2.41 GAA and .919 save percentage in 55 games, but was overshadowed by rising star. Cory Schneider. Still, Toronto goalies posted a collective 3.04 GAA and .900 save percentage.

Of course, it all comes down to asking price. The Canucks are going to demand a lot in return for Luongo. Even though Vancouver has two capable goalies, it will want at least one or two key pieces to move him and Toronto doesn't exactly have a ton of depth.

A return the Panthers would probably be the best fit for Luongo in terms of his family life, but Longley reports the team is hesitant to get into serious talks because of his sizable contract. That wouldn't scare away the Leafs.

The other option is sticking with the Canucks for another season. The shortened schedule means it's going to be a serious sprint to the playoffs over the next couple months, which should be enough work to keep both Luongo and Schneider happy.

Although Luongo wouldn't get the starter's workload he's come to expect throughout his career, it would give him a chance to win a Stanley Cup. After the season, it should be a little easier to identify potential landing spots than it will be during the short-season chaos.

Ultimately, a move to the Maple Leafs makes the most sense. Given the situation, however, staying with the Canucks seems likely, at least in the short term.