He’s an Olympic Gold medalist. He took the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup final since 1994. He’s a finalist for the Hart Trophy and the league’s MVP award, and he is the franchise’s all-time leader in shutouts and wins.
But Vancouver doesn’t want goaltender Roberto Luongo anymore, and the veteran netminder wants out of the Pacific Northwest.
Luongo has been on the trading block since last summer. Backup Corey Schneider outperformed Luongo in the regular season and playoffs, where the top-seeded Canucks were upset by the upstart Los Angeles Kings.
Schneider is now Vancouver’s starter, and last summer TSN reported Luongo said he would waive his no-trade clause if asked to be moved.
“It’s going to be what’s best for the team,” Luongo said. “Whatever scenario that is, I’m okay with it—whether that involves me being here is not is okay.”
While Canucks GM Mike Gillis has been patient in his search for a new home for Luongo, and the goalie recently told RDS he would be willing to stay in Vancouver for the lockout-shortened season but not for the long term, it may be in both the team and player’s best interests to divorce now.
While the months of trade rumors have brought numerous reputed suitors, one team makes perfect sense for Luongo: his old team of five seasons, the Florida Panthers.
Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News notes that the Panthers have been rumored to be in the running for Luongo since June of 2012.
Some may argue that with current starter Jose Theodore in the net, the Panthers are set at the goaltending position. After all, Theodore is a former Hart Trophy winner who propelled Florida to its first playoff season since 2000 last year.
But by acquiring Luongo, Florida would be making a significant statement. Theodore is the type of goaltender who gets you to the playoffs. Luongo is the type of goaltender who will get you to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Luongo has a career goals-against average of 2.52 and a save percentage of .919, while Theodore checks in with stats of 2.66 and .910, respectively. Luongo is also more durable than Theodore—the latter has not played 60 games in a season since the 2003-04 campaign.
Additionally, Luongo wants to make this move. The goaltender maintains an offseason residence with his wife and two children in the South Florida area. In a September interview with the Miami Sun-Sentinel, Luongo said the Panthers were his “preferred location.”
The Panthers took a step forward with their playoff appearance last season. The next logical move would be to bring home Luongo.