Had he not been banking on a job in Florida, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo would likely be wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform right now.
As reported by Hockey Central insider Doug MacLean on HC @ Noon Monday, a tentative off-season deal for Luongo was in place between the Leafs and Canucks, but Luongo refused to waive his no-trade clause at the time because the well-paid goaltender was led to believe a deal could also be struck with the Florida Panthers, his former club and his first choice for a landing spot.
“Luongo, at that particular time, believed that a deal was going to happen in Florida. He really believed a deal was coming through in Florida,” MacLean said Monday. “He was told by somebody close to the Panthers that a deal was going to happen, they were going to find a way and to be patient. Luongo turned down the deal with the Leafs. He would not waive his no-trade (to join) the Leafs, so the deal was off.”
Had Luongo known the Florida negotiations would fall through, he would have accepted a trade to Toronto, MacLean explained.
“So it wasn’t (Canucks GM) Mike Gillis getting greedy,” MacLean said. “Now the Florida thing falls on his face, and he’s disappointed he turned down the (Leafs).”
Before being traded by then-Panthers GM Mike Keenan to Vancouver on June 23, 2006, Luongo played five seasons in Florida. It was there he was awarded his first Vezina Trophy nomination, in 2003-04. Luongo still spends the bulk of his off-season in Florida, where he met his wife.
Now the backup to Cory Schneider in Vancouver, Luongo has gone 7-4-3 with a pair of shutouts in 16 games played this season. He has a 2.44 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.
Luongo, who carries with him a $5.33-million annual cap hit, has been the focus of trade rumours since being supplanted by Schneider as Vancouver’s No. 1 goalie in the 2012 playoffs.
The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.
—Strombone (@strombone1) March 29, 2013