A Fan’s Take: Will Roberto Luongo Start Next Season for the Panthers?

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News of a possible trade involving the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks for former Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo has slowed to a snail's pace.

Timetable for the Canucks

There have been reports that the Cancuks' general manager Mike Gillis was looking for a package from the Panthers that would include the Cats' top prospect Nick Bjugstad but the Panthers' general manager Dale Tallon doesn't seem to be biting on that idea. The longer Gillis waits to bang out a deal for Luongo, the worse his leverage will get. Luongo has a no-trade clause in his contract, which leaves the player seemingly holding the cards.

If the Canucks start the season with Luongo, that will leave the team with a $5.3 million cap hit for a backup goaltender. Pair that with the $4 million cap hit they'll take from Cory Schneider's new deal and the Canucks would have the highest paid goaltending tandem in the league. Despite what Gillis may say to the Vancouver press, it seems that at this point Luongo and the Panthers have all the leverage in the world.

Who to Give up?

No matter how desperate the Canucks are to ditch Luongo, there is still the matter of what the Cats are willing to give up for him. In the past several years the Panthers have built an impressive pool of prospects that are on the verge of hitting the NHL within the next few years. Guys like Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau will potentially be around for several years, long after Luongo has retired.

All this is assuming that such a trade would even be in the Panthers' best interest. Last season the Cats' goaltending tandem of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen worked well together for a combined record of 36-22-17. Luongo is still the dominant goaltender but how much should the Panthers be willing to give up for a couple more wins?

A trade like this would be more tempting if the Cats were in a position to make a serious run at the playoffs but as it stands right now the team is still rebuilding. There are so many new faces on the ice it's difficult for the Panthers to have a good assessment of what skill positions they will need in the next several years. The fact that the Cats have a young hot-shot goaltender in Jacob Markstrom makes any kind of move even less urgent.

I'm not opposed to seeing Luongo back between the pipes in Sunrise; I just hope Tallon doesn't mortgage the team's future in order to sell a few more tickets.

More from this contributor:

The Panthers' Goaltender Jacob Markstrom's Place in Roberto Luongo's Future: A Fan's Take

Why Nick Bjugstad's Decision to Stay in College is Good for the Panthers: A Fan's Take

The Florida Panthers' 2012 Draft Breakdown: A Fan's Take

Sources:

All statistics from Yahoo! Sports

Team captain history from FloridaPanthers.com

Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein

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