It hasn’t seemed like a couple of days since a few members of the Canadian press came out of right field to say that the Panthers were interested in our former goaltender Roberto Luongo. Many of us, including me, had a knee-jerk reaction to the news. Why would we need Luongo and his albatross contract? Weren’t we already attempting to resign Scott Clemmensen to pair with Jose Theodore? What about Jacob Markstrom?
We wrote off the news, but it came back stronger than ever. Now there is no secret that the Panthers are the main players in the Roberto Luongo sweepstakes. Yesterday, Dale Tallon spoke with reporters in Pittsburgh, saying he’s listening to the Canucks about Luongo, but won’t give up his top prospects. Meanwhile Mike Gillis, Vancouver’s GM, says that he is still getting in the way of a Luongo deal, since he hasn’t been blown away by any proposals.
It appears that Roberto Luongo returning to Sunrise is a much safer bet than it was two weeks ago. Teams with goaltending issues have made moves of their own since then. Tampa Bay acquired young Anders Lindback from Nashville. Columbus dealt with Philadelphia to get Sergei Bobrovsky. The Toronto Maple Leafs never really were on Luongo’s radar in the first place: he needs to settle down in a quieter hockey market than the media madhouse in Ontario.
It seems like the only realistic place that Luongo would mind being traded to would be South Florida. The clues are all there: he owns a residence here, he enjoyed playing here in his early career, he would be our unquestioned number one, we’re a contending team.
The only issue is from the Panthers’ front. We have a solid goalie set-up already, we have a good core of players tat maybe still has not reached its peak, we have a stable of talent. What more do we need. In my eyes, this trade would function similarly to the Ed Jovanovski signing from last year. Throw a name in the South Florida media that fans have heard before. Most everybody that was a fan liked Roberto before he was traded – it was management that was sick of him. His return would function again how serious we are to be Cup contenders. Luongo is still considered a world-class goalie, and the Panthers need to answer the moves in Carolina and Washington to get more offense.
It may not have made sense at first, but now it just might. Luongo needs to be on a smaller map to succeed. The Panthers are still looking to draw more fans. If Florida can get some cap space moving the other way, I might even support bringing Bobby Lou back down in a grand return to glory. But I’ll have to see the details first before I get too excited.
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