With the current NHL collective bargaining agreement set to expire at 11:59 p.m. EST Saturday, don’t expect the Vancouver Canucks to trade goaltender Roberto Luongo before the deadline.
Luongo maintained that his preference is to return to the Florida Panthers, but he’s not pushing Canucks management to deal him. The 33-year-old veteran is ready to return this season with Vancouver (whenever the season begins), even if it’s in a backup role.
Addressing concerns that his presence would create an awkward situation with his Canucks teammates, Luongo insisted it won’t be an issue, pointing out he has “a lot of good friends” on the team and harbored no ill-will towards management.
Luongo holds a no-trade clause in his contract, but said he was willing to work with GM Mike Gillis on a trade.
Gillis, meanwhile, may be keen to move Luongo, but he won’t give him away. Addressing suggestions teams might be hoping to get Luongo at a bargain price, Gillis said, “We’re one of the wealthiest teams in the league, so we don’t have fire sales.”
George Richards of the Miami Herald suggested a Panthers reunion for Luongo is a possibility, but talks between the two clubs have cooled since June. Gillis apparently has interest in some of the Panthers young prospects, who Panthers GM Dale Tallon is unwilling to part with.
Once a new CBA is implemented and the teams return to action, there’s no guarantee Luongo will be moved quickly, or return to Florida.
Luongo has been the consummate team player and won’t make waves if he starts the season as Cory Schneider’s backup. While it’ll be mildly embarrassing for Gillis to have a $5.3-million player warming the bench, he’ll remain patient and wait for the right offer.
The Panthers, meanwhile, have Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen as their goalie tandem, with Jacob Markstrom waiting in the wings. If they start the season strong, Tallon won’t be under any pressure to make a move.
On the other hand, a slow start could threaten the momentum the Panthers built up by making the playoffs last spring for the first time in more than a decade, which could push Tallon toward a deal.
FIELDING SHARKS QUESTIONS
CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz recently conducted a live chat with his readers and fielded questions about potential moves by the San Jose Sharks.
Kurz believes there’s a good chance unrestricted free agent left winger Sergei Samsonov will sign a tryout contract or a one-year, low-money deal with the Sharks, citing his friendship and ties with Joe Thornton.
In response to a reader’s question asking if the Sharks might land a top-six forward from the Philadelphia Flyers, Kurz suggested it would take offering up defenseman Dan Boyle, which he considered “not very likely.”
Boyle’s inconsistent play in the first half of last season made him the target of mid-season trade rumors, but his performance improved in the second half. Sharks management prefers to retain the 36-year-old blueliner to mentor Brent Burns, considered Boyle’s heir apparent on the Sharks defense.
Kurz was told management wants to re-sign left winger Ryane Clowe, but doesn’t expect that to happen until a new CBA is forged.
Clowe, 29, is entering the final season of his four-year deal worth an average annual salary of $3.6 million and is eligible for UFA status next summer.
CRUNCH TIME FOR NEW CONTRACTS
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman noted via Twitter Thursday there is a 5 p.m. EST deadline Saturday for NHL contracts to be approved before the current CBA expires and a lockout begins.
Friedman wrote that teams and players understand if they want to ensure new contracts are approved, they should be filed by 5 p.m. Friday.
That’s why the Detroit Red Wings signed UFA defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year, $5-million contract and re-signed restricted free agent center Justin Abdelkader to a four-year deal believed to be worth $1.8 million per season Thursday night. The Wings had been negotiating with the pair for several weeks.
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.