It's now coming up on 11 months since the Vancouver Canucks' goalie controversy really heated up after Cory Schneider overtook Roberto Luongo in the playoffs. The summer followed with the re-signing of Schneider to a three-year, $12 million deal and a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Luongo.
But here we are in mid March of the following year, and the Canucks still have both goalies on the roster.
At the start of this shortened season, the two-goalie system seemed to work for the Canucks, but the regime has fizzled as the team's overall performance has become worrisome.
The Canucks are now at a point where the return for Luongo is high, and trading him is necessary for the success of the team, which now sits just three points ahead of the ninth seeded Detroit Red Wings and two points ahead of the division rival Minnesota Wild.
Although the Canucks were victorious over the hot Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday and were dominant against the Nashville Predators tonight, their performance of late has been awful with just five wins in the past 14 games.
The return from trading Luongo would surely bolster the Canucks' lineup and provide a spark; more so than the potential return at any point previously. Why? Because the possible candidates to pick up Luongo are even more desperate to make a change than the Canucks.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Much like last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs look like a playoff team. And much like last year, that feeling has begun to fade. After allowing a late flurry to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Leafs have now lost four straight and won just four of their past 10 games. The lack of recent success for the franchise has already cost Brian Burke his job, and another failed season will not be accepted.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the most talented teams in the league on paper, but still fail to perform. With the third and fourth leading point scorers in the league, how can you not be among the best? The Lightning put their faith in Anders Lindback last summer when they signed the free agent, but things haven't been working out. After a hot start, the Bolts have fallen to 13th in the East with just two wins in their past 10 games. Change is needed if they're going to capitalize on this St. Louis/Stamkos duo while it's around.
Much like Toronto, the Edmonton Oilers are at a point in their rebuild where failure is no longer acceptable. They simply have too much young talent to not see results. With four wins in the past 10 games, many are questioning whether Devan Dubnyk is the man for the job. An inter-division trade is still unlikely, but with the plethora of talent the Oilers have, the return could be just what the Canucks need.
The Florida Panthers were one of the more likely trade candidates during the summer, but that speculation was often countered by the potential of Jacob Markstrom. With a 1-5-1 record and a .891 save percentage on the season, a trade has become more likely. That said, with Stephen Weiss out for the season, the Panthers may consider this season a write-off and hold their faith in Markstrom.
The Calgary Flames are a team which is in desperate need of a rebuild, which means they'll be looking for youth (which Luongo does not bring). If Schneider was on the trading block, Calgary could be a serious candidate, but that likely is not the case. Regardless, Calgary makes this list...well, because it's Jay Feaster. Who knows what he's thinking?
If the Canucks sit on this opportunity, they risk Luongo's trade value diminishing as the potential candidates find their stride or look elsewhere for trades. The time is now.
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