Panthers expect to start 2016-17 season without Roberto Luongo

The flurry of signings for back-up goaltenders have the Hockey Central panel wondering about the skyrocketing value of a quality back-up goalie in today's NHL.

The Florida Panthers acquired two goalies within the past week. First, they acquired Reto Berra in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche and then on July 1, they signed free agent James Reimer to a five-year deal.

Now we know why.

Luongo, who had off-season hip surgery after he suffered an injury towards the end of the season, will not be available to the Panthers at the start of next season.

According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, the team is expecting him to make his return to the crease in November.

In 62 games last season, Luongo won 35 games with a .922 save percentage and 2.35 GAA.

Luongo still has six years left on his contract with the Panthers, but will earn just $1.6 million in the third-last year of the deal, and $1 million on each of the last two years of the contract, leading to speculation he will retire before the contract runs its course. If he does, the Vancouver Canucks will be hit with a cap recapture penalty.

In acquiring Reimer, not only do the Panthers give themselves a No. 1 goalie to start the year with, but also perhaps a safety net ahead of next year’s expansion draft, when teams can protect just one goalie. And, if Luongo does retire before the end of his contract, Reimer would be in place to step in as the new No. 1.

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