Prior to the elimination of the Vancouver Canucks Sunday, speculation over the future of goaltender Roberto Luongo was already well underway.
It continued throughout this past weekend and centered on potential destinations where he could end up if he is shopped this summer.
David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail listed the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers as teams in dire need of an upgrade between the pipes.
He also suggested the New Jersey Devils, given Martin Brodeur's age, could be in the market for a goalie this summer. However, he believes their financial problems rule them out as being the ones to take on Luongo's big contract.
CBC.ca's Chris Iorfida included the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers, along with Toronto, Tampa Bay and New Jersey, in his list.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson also listed the Lightning, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets and Panthers and tossed in the Chicago Blackhawks for good measure.
But these pundits also listed reasons why Luongo wouldn’t end up in any of these destinations.
Of those on Shoalts’ list, he considers the Oilers the least likely to have interest in Luongo, which is understandable given their focus on rebuilding with affordable young talent.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini indicated in his end-of-season press conference the tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin would return next season.
It's believed there's bad blood between the Canucks and Maple Leafs management teams, which would rule out Toronto as a destination.
Another factor, as Larry Brooks of the New York Post pointed out, is Leafs GM Brian Burke abhors expensive, heavily front-loaded, long-term contracts like Luongo's, so it's doubtful he'll make an exception in this case.
The Lightning were rumored to have interest in Cory Schneider, Luongo's backup, but if he's not available, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times wondered if GM Steve Yzerman would give consideration to Luongo.
Cristodero points out the Lightning already have considerable cap space tied up in forwards Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Martin St-Louis and Ryan Malone. Adding Luongo would mean more than $30 million in payroll would be invested in five players.
Unless Yzerman sheds one of those other big contracts, Luongo won't be going to Tampa Bay.
Given Braden Holtby's performance for the Capitals in their first round series against Boston, he and Michal Neuvirth should be the goalie tandem for Washington next season.
The Panthers are already committed to Jose Theodore for another season and his solid playoff performance against New Jersey leaves management with little reason to replace him. They also have promising Jacob Markstrom waiting in the wings, so reuniting Luongo with his former team seems unlikely.
As for the Blackhawks, they've already re-signed Ray Emery to an extension and will give young Corey Crawford another shot to prove himself as a starter. Like the Lightning, they also have a number of players under expensive, long-term deals, all but ruling them out as a trade partner.
The Blue Jackets seem to be a prime destination and have the cap space to take on Luongo’s contract. The stumbling block, however, would be his no-trade clause, as he might be unwilling to go to a rebuilding team in Columbus.
Suggesting potential destinations for Luongo is easy. Making them a reality is another story.
ANOTHER STANLEY CUP FINAL GOALIE UP FOR AUCTION?
Will the Boston Bruins consider trading goaltender Tim Thomas this summer?
That's the question posed by the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson, who pointed out Thomas has one year remaining on his contract (at a cap hit of $5 million), while backup Tuukka Rask, a restricted free agent this summer, is waiting in the wings.
CapGeek.com indicates Thomas cannot be traded or demoted before July 1, which would open the door to a potential move this summer.
Despite his age (38) and the recent publicity over his political views, Thomas posted solid numbers again this season (2.36 GAA, .920 SP in 59 games) and is only a year removed from his second Vezina Trophy and first Conn Smythe.
If the Bruins were to shop Thomas, he'd be an excellent, short-term goaltending fix for teams in need of one and is certainly more affordable than Luongo, who has 10 years remaining on his contract.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for Thomas and Luongo, but it's interesting that, almost a year after they squared off in the Stanley Cup final, they're now being mentioned in trade rumors.
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 and Kukla's Korner.