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.