Luongo: $5.33 million cap hit, deal expires July 2022
Shawn Matthais: $1,75-million cap hit, deal expires July 2015
Jacon Markstrom: $1.2-million cap hit, deal expires July 2015
What the Panthers are thinking: Well, let’s be honest — no one saw this coming. Don’t lie. YOU DID NOT SEE THIS COMING. Easily trumping any other news thus far in trade deadline mania, Robert Luongo returns to the Florida Panthers after years of torment in Vancouver. Bobby Lou helped get the Canucks as close to a Cup as the franchise has ever been — taking them to within a game of winning the Cup in the spring of 2011. Then he lost his starting job to Cory Schneider—but his enormous contract kept him in Vancouver, while Schneider went to Jersey for parts. Now, Florida has graciously and expensively brought their lost son home. The Panthers are thinking that Luongo is really good and are looking to rebuild their franchise around him. He does have some decent years left in his tank. It’s not a bad idea, especially with Vancouver picking up part of the tab. They’ve given up relatively little in return.
What the Canucks are thinking: Luongo’s 12-year, $64-million deal was an albatross for the Canucks franchise and brought Lou himself to declare “my contract sucks”. Aside from that momentary lapse into first-world-million-dollar-athlete-problems, Luongo stayed classy and self-deprecating through the whole Schneider ordeal. It looked like a fresh start for Luongo and the Canucks, until the team just flat-out sucked under new coach John Tortorella this season. Luongo was his steady self all year (and was chosen for Canada’s Olympic squad). But rising star Eddie Lack started the last three games for the Canucks, promoting a new goalie “controversy” in Vancouver. Let’s assume this deal was in the works the whole time. With Ryan Kesler reported to be on the way out of town (by the deadline or in the summer) and the Sedin twins on the mend, the Luongo deal suggests that the white flag is up in Vancouver. Luongo ends his tenure as the winningest goalie in Canucks history with 252 wins. The end of an era? Let the rebuild begin.
Who wins this deal now: Roberto Luongo, because, honestly…
Who wins this deal later: Both teams. Vancouver loses its albatross (while still kind of paying for it). Markstrom has potential, but Lack will be the Canucks’ man now. Florida gets a good goalie who will be an overpaid old goalie in a few years. But still, Luongo brings stability—and he was sensational when he played in Sunrise almost a decade ago. Lou may thrive on the sunny coast.
Overall: Vancouver starts again. Florida gets a familiar veteran to guide its rebuild.