Strombabble: Stalemate

Thomas Drance
July 18 2012 10:04AM

Over the weekend, reports surfaced, which, suggested that the Blackhawks had offered the Canucks centreman Dave Bolland in exchange for Roberto Luongo. For a brief shining moment, it appeared that the market for goaltender Roberto Luongo trade was "hardening." This was a relief for news starved Canucks fans who are eager to "move on."

Alas, for a trade widely seen as "inevitable," this Luongo transaction is dragging on for an eternity this summer. Based on several reports over the past twenty-four appears, it appears that we should expect that continue...

More after the break.

The idea of a "stalemate" between Florida General Manager Dale Tallon and Mike Gillis first began to surface yesterday, by way of Sun Sentinel hockey reporter Harvey Fialkov:

There’s absolutely no recent chatter on the Roberto Luongo front. The Panthers are content with their trio of goalies and are certainly holding all the cards in this situation.

Today "the stalemate" made it into the latest Thirty Thoughts column from Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman. Friedman is among the most reliable hockey reporters in the business, and his report gave us a more detailed breakdown of what's preventing the Canucks and the Panthers from consumating a Luongo trade (these were thoughts 25 + 26, I removed the numbers for the sake of readability within this post). 

It's not exactly a state secret that [Roberto Luongo] wants to go to Florida and in a perfect world, the Canucks would send him there. There's a bit of a stalemate now, as the Panthers feel Vancouver is asking too much and the Canucks feel Florida is squeezing too hard. One of the issues is prospects. Florida, which has done a great job stocking the system, is understandably unwilling to move Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson or Jonathan Huberdeau. An educated guess is that Vancouver has inquired about the "next level" of talented youth, like a Nick Bjugstad or Quinton Howden. Don't think Florida likes that, either. So, between that and the fact the Canucks don't want to take bad salary in return, things aren't really moving at this time.

The endgame for Luongo? If it doesn't happen with Florida, they'll ask him for more destinations. Eventually, he's going to have to play along, because he has "no-trade," not "no-move" protection. But, there's no real deadline now except for fan and media impatience.

In summary, the Canucks and the Panthers remain in a holding pattern. Luongo would still prefer to go to Florida, which we knew, and the Panthers are a willing suitor at the right price. Of course that "price" is the rub, and the two sides don't appear close. They're so far away, in fact, that the two sides have broken off active talks (as reported by Fialkov).

Dale Tallon is "understandably unwilling" to move any of his club's top-end prospects, and we can imply from the phrase: "the Canucks don't want to take bad salary in return,"  that the Panthers would like to dump one of their many toxic deals in any exchange. 

This has me thinking that perhaps there's a "quid pro quo" element at the root of this impasse. I'm just speculating and reading between the lines here, but it seems possible that if the Canucks were interested in nabbing a nice prospect from Florida they would have to be willing to take on an inefficient contract in return as well. Alternatively, perhaps they could dump Luongo's salary with limited financial reprecussions, but in that case they'd have to settle for a lesser return. Again, this based on my reading of the reports I've linked to and quoted in this post and nothing else, but it would make sense that Mike Gillis and the Canucks can't have it both ways.

As Elliotte notes, "there's no real deadline," which is why we should expect this situation to continue to drag on. Stan Bowman and Chicago will need to part with more than Bolland (something I see as unlikely), and Brian Burke and Toronto have turned their gaze to less proven commodities (albeit only semi-seriously). Meanwhile, Dale Tallon and Mike Gillis appear to be playing the long game in haggling over price.

On the Strombabble front, it appears we're in for a long summer. 

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Innovation
July 18 2012, 11:07AM
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I think this was the 'Seinfeld' of entries. A story about nothing.

Still a loyal reader though.

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#3 Glenn
July 18 2012, 11:50AM
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What about the Canucks taking a poor contract and dumping it in Chicago? I know there is a cost but is that not well within the realms of possibility - giving them both a good player and cap space in return for Luongo

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#4 Gilchy
July 18 2012, 03:36PM
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The lack of a deadline has created a total chess-match/used car negotiation. As there is no incentive to get anything done right NOW, both sides seem content to simply continue making unreasonable demands, with a long term goal of guiding it in the right direction.

My gut says it's simply not going to happen with the Panthers, but who knows?

Glen, what do you mean with regards to a Chicago salary dunmp?

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#5 KleptoKlown
July 19 2012, 05:44PM
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Gillis should keep on keeping on.

Worst case scenario, Canucks start the year with the same goalies as last year. There are 29 other teams, and chances are 1 of them will have a struggling goalie.

The season may not even start on time.

As a fan, of course I'm anxious to see this deal get done. It's like waiting to open Christmas presents when you're a kid. The suspense keeps building and building. Bobby Lu is a valuable asset, and should not be traded until the right deal comes along

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#6 Mantastic
July 20 2012, 09:51AM
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if Luongo was so valuable, other teams would have had no problem with Gillis' price tag and Luo would have been traded by now. However, he hasn't because teams don't value him as being truely elite for his contract lenght or even the majority of his contract lenght. If he was TRUELY elite, teams would have had no problem trading for him.

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#7 KleptoKlown
July 20 2012, 06:16PM
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"Other teams would have had no problems with Gillis' price tag..."

Every GM has a problem with opposing GMs price tag on star players. It's why Nash hasn't been traded, it's why Ryan hasn't been traded.

The Canucks have a team that will win the NW division again, and be competitive in the playoffs. They don't *need* to move Luongo right away.

Lounge is still among the best goaltenders, but other GMs figure they have Gillis over a barrel, and that simply isn't true.

No question that having 9 million in 2 goalies is not an ideal situation, but ask yourself if replacing Luongo's contract with a contract like Mike Komisarek actually helps the team at all.

Gillis is doing the right thing here. Keep Luongo until you get what the team needs. There are far worse things that can happen to a NHL team than having 2 all-star capable goalies.

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