Rumors regarding Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo’s return to the Florida Panthers have churned throughout the summer.
Luongo, whose contract carries a no-trade clause, spent five seasons with the Panthers prior to his trade to Vancouver in 2006 and reportedly wouldn’t object to returning.
That would create an awkward situation for current starter Jose Theodore, giving rise to suggestions the Panthers will try to move him as part of the return for Luongo or in a separate deal to a team seeking experienced goaltending.
Theodore spoke with George Richards of the Miami Herald, claiming to be unconcerned over the Luongo-to-Panthers rumors.
Richards reported Theodore, who also has a no-trade clause, wouldn’t say if he was asked by the Panthers to waive his clause, but claimed he hasn’t spoken with anyone from either team.
The assumption is the Panthers would ask Theodore to waive his clause because they currently have promising Jacob Markstrom in the system, plus Scott Clemmensen under contract, either of whom could fill the backup role behind Luongo.
But none of this is a certainty. It’s possible the Panthers will keep Markstrom in the minors and shop Clemmensen, who lacks a no-trade and could prove easier to move.
Luongo and Theodore would provide the Panthers with a solid tandem to start the season and give management the option of using Theodore as a bargaining chip later.
As for the Canucks, they signed Eddie Lack to an affordable two-year contract, suggesting he’d fill the backup role behind Cory Schneider.
Lack’s $750,000 cap hit for this season would also be more affordable for the Canucks than Theodore’s $1.5 million.
It’s also believed the Canucks are more interested in landing one of the Panthers’ promising prospects in exchange for Luongo – such as center Nick Bjugstad – than bringing in another goaltender.
RED WINGS STILL TRYING TO IMPROVE ROSTER
Speculation persists the Detroit Red Wings will bolster their blueline prior to the Sept. 15 end date of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan reported Red Wings GM Ken Holland acknowledged his club needed to “sign another defenseman, maybe two,” suggesting he might do something before Sept. 15.
Last week, Holland offered a two-year, $5-million contract to unrestricted free agent Carlo Colaiacovo and Khan reports the club “expressed interest in Michal Rozsival, Brett Clark and Mark Eaton.”
Colaiacovo, however, reportedly wants a three-year deal. Given his injury history, the Wings might consider other options if he holds out for a longer term.
Khan also wrote that the Wings had hoped to land an impact defenseman via trade this summer, but options were limited and prices were high.
He suggested they might have better luck awaiting the outcome of a new CBA before going the trade route, as a reduced salary cap with no rollback in salaries would force some clubs to shed salaries, providing Holland with better options.
With a payroll of $57.1 million, the Red Wings are currently beneath the $58-million cap recently suggested by the NHL in its latest CBA offer to the Players’ Association.
If Colaiacovo accepted the Wings offer, however, that would push their payroll to more than $59.6 million, plus they still have to re-sign restricted free agent forward Justin Abdelkader, which could push it to more than $61 million.
Should the league succeed in implementing a $58-million cap without salary rollbacks, the Wings wouldn’t have to free up as much cap space as other clubs to become cap-compliant, but it could still provide Holland with a challenge to figure out where to cut.
Making a trade could also prove difficult under that cap scenario. While there could be some better defense options available to Holland at reduced prices, he’d still have to find some way to add an impact blueliner without going over the cap.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla’s Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.