Gillis: ‘Potential deal in place’ for Luongo

The Roberto Luongo trade rumours just won’t go away, as Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis tells the Vancouver Sun there is “a potential deal in place with one team” that could see the netminder be traded.

“We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it’s not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait,” Gillis told the Sun.

Luongo has been linked to teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers, but Gillis explained that although he has received offers for Luongo from certain teams around the league, those offers have fallen short of what the Canucks are looking for.

“We’ve been offered packages that don’t fit what our plan is, what we need,” Gillis said. “Excess salary coming back with a (throw-in) player who can’t play in our lineup. They say, ‘Okay, we’ll do this, but you’ve got to take this.’ Well, we’re not taking it. We’ve had lots of proposals like that with good pieces that can help us but the other part doesn’t help us, and oftentimes they have term attached to them, so we’d just be turning around and buying out a guy.”

To start the year Cory Schneider was named the Canucks’ starting goalie, but after surrendering five goals on just 14 shots in the season opener against the Anaheim Ducks, he was pulled in favour of Luongo, who finished that game and started in Sunday’s 3-2 shootout loss against the Edmonton Oilers.

If Schneider continues to struggle, as he did in the first game of the year, many believe this could complicate Luongo’s situation. Gillis added that the lockout and rapid start to the shortened season did affect the team’s plans for Luongo.

“Roberto has a no-trade (clause), so in discussions prior to the lockout, he had a say in where he was prepared to go. Once the lockout starts, you’re not permitted to even talk about player transactions, subject to huge fines and loss of draft picks. Then the lockout ends and suddenly, you’re trying to make a decision in four or five days about a premier player in this league, and it’s tough to make a trade of this magnitude in eight months, let alone four days. So we have him here, and we’re happy having him here,” Gillis explained.

“There wasn’t really time to do anything but this. And we’re going to let it play out. Lots of stuff is going to happen here in the first month.… I’d rather keep the guy we know, who’s a good person.”

Luongo has won more than 30 games in seven consecutive years, holds five current NHL records, has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy and won awards such as the Mark Messier Leadership Award and William M. Jennings Trophy, plus he won an Olympic gold medal in 2010 with Team Canada.

“We have a really good player here who brings a tremendous amount to the team, his professionalism, his willingness to work — he’s the kind of player that changes the culture on a team and shows players what it means to be an elite-level player,” Gillis said.

The 33-year-old has 10 years remaining on his contract with an annual salary cap hit of $5.33 million. Schneider, meanwhile, has three years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $4 million. With both goalies having lucrative deals, Gillis admits sharing starts or having one netminder sit on the bench is not an ideal situation, but having two quality players between the pipes is a good problem to have.

“Well, they’re both professionals,” Gillis said. “You know, there is an element of professionalism that goes along with your entitlement to the kind of money you get paid. And having both of them may give us the best opportunity to win — I don’t know.”

The Canucks host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night as both teams will look to pick up their first win of the season.

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