The summer long rumor of Roberto Luongo returning to the homeland here in South Florida have been quiet for well……not long enough it seems. According to the USA Today, the holdup is Dale Tallon’s unwillingness to part ways with future NHLer Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad a 6′ 5″ 215 lb center is going back to the University of Minnesota this season, rather than attempt to make the Florida Panthers roster and good for him. He wants a chance to win a collegiate championship, and he has every right to do so.
As for Dale’s stubborness I applaud him. We have no idea what the ceiling might be for Bjugstad. Never mind it would appear that the Panthers prospect pool is rich in men down the middle, everyone knows, a good center is hard to find. It’s even harder to find 2,3 or 4. With Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau lining up as the top two centermen in the future, it appears that the Panthers are getting their ducks in a row.
As for Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis and his demands for a prospect as part of a deal, the longer this goes, the less control he has. It’s clear that Bobby Lou’s days with the Canucks are numbered. He said so himself after a recent poker tournament he attended. While we don’t know what the ceiling is for Bjugstad, we do know this. Roberto Luongo is 33 years old. He puts up great numbers in the regular season, and seems to have difficulty winning the big game in the post season. Drama has filled his past, and whether that’s been lit with a match by the Vancouver media isn’t known for sure, but we don’t need drama here in South Florida. That’s what South Beach is for.
I can’t blame Luongo for wanting to come back to Florida. What’s not to like? Year round golf, tennis, beaches. And most important of all no state income tax!
Alas, I can think of $6.7 million reasons why Dale needs to hold his ground. Should this trade ultimately be made, two years from now the Panthers will find themselves in the exact same position that Vancouver is in. It will be very difficult to trade a goaltender with eight years left on an inflated contract.
And no Stanley Cup.
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