Is this the weekend we finally see Luongo and the Canucks part ways?
Image via wikimedia commons.
As this weekend’s NHL draft approaches Roberto Luongo scuttlebutt is, like a year old frozen burrito in the microwave, beginning to heat up. The DiPietro for Luongo straight up rumours that punctuated Friday afternoon were good for a laugh and some empty calorie pageviews but not much else, and Mike Gillis said as close to nothing as could be imagined in a Friday Team 1040 interview.
Thankfully we’ve got the godfather of hockey Insiders, TSN’s Bob McKenzie on the case. McKenzie can usually be counted on to provide us with the choices cuts of behind the scenes insight into precisely how a Luongo market is developing in New York this weekend, and on an Insider Trading segment which aired Friday on TSN he did just that.
Click past the jump for more.
The segment was kicked off by James Duthie asking the panel whether or not we should expect to see an imminent resolution to the ongoing Luongo saga. Bob McKenzie’s response suggested that we should, but precisely how this ultimately plays out remains anyone’s guess:
"I would certainly think so. I think no team including the Vancouver Canucks would put a finite deadline on when this has to be solved, but I believe it is the goal of the Vancouver Canucks to come out of this weekend with Roberto Luongo no longer on the roster.
Now they believe there are some trade options available for them, we can’t find them. The New Islanders are apparently out, they’re not interested. The Philadelphia Flyers, we believe Roberto Luongo’s a little too rich for their blood. And yet we continue to hear that there are things in the works and things are percolating, and something may happen.
If not a trade then maybe it’s waivers, and if it’s not waivers the Canucks have basically said they’re not interested in buying him out…"
A Luongo buyout is an expensive proposition (27 million), so on some level it’s understandable that Vancouver Canucks ownership and management would be reluctant to go that route. But 27 million it’s actually less expensive than the amount the Lightning will pay to get out from under Vincent Lecavalier’s deal, and needless to say the Canucks are in much better financial shape than the NHL outpost in Tampa Bay…
Matt Sekeres put the buyout question to Mike Gillis in a Team 1040 radio interview on Friday afternoon, by the way, and Gillis’s answer was essentially inscrutable: "We are in the process of talking to teams about Roberto, and I’m not going to say one way or the other (whether or not we’ll buy him out)."
We’d pivotted off of a David Shoalts article earlier this week, and pointed out that the Bryzgalov buyout, by merely being something that happened, increased the percieved likelihood of an eventual Luongo buyout and further diminished the Canucks’s rapidly atrophying leverage in this situation. So while I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks were genuinely and totally set against the prospect of using a compliance buyout on Roberto Luongo’s contract, I would also expect the organization to be telling people publicly and privately that a buyout is a non-starter ahead of this Sunday’s draft…
One other thing I noticed is Florida’s complete absence from McKenzie’s spiel on "options available" to the Canucks on the Luongo trade front. With the Panthers’ plethora of unsightly contracts on the books and their desperate need for goaltending on the ice, I still think South Beach is the most sensible Luongo trade partner for the Canucks (that is if a trade is even possible at this point, which I’d still suggest it is so long as Vancouver takes salary back).
Finally, Bob McKenzie suggested that one group to look out for in this process might be Craig MacTavish and the Edmonton Oilers:
"Keep an eye on the Edmonton Oilers, I’m not saying they’re trying to trade for Roberto Luongo but I do know they’ve had interest in Luongo before. He has a no trade clause, but if he’s on waivers, I’ve got to believe the Oilers are looking for a number one goaltender."
Also worth noting is that James Duthie, who is as close with Luongo as anybody in the media, quickly chimed in and questioned whether or not Luongo would even be willing to go to Edmonton. Of course, if the Oilers claim Luongo off of waivers as McKenzie is suggesting, it’s not like the best goaltender in Canucks franchise history will have much choice in the matter anyway…