Roberto Luongo rumors: Maple Leafs, Panthers in trade equation

Rich Lam

The potential trade of Roberto Luongo is one of the larger storylines heading into the post-lockout NHL. Where do you think he will end up?

One of the more notable post-lockout storylines will focus on the future of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

With the Canucks seemingly heading into the future with 26-year-old Cory Schneider as their No. 1 goaltender, the 33-year-old Luongo and his 12-year contract (which has 10-years remaining with an annual cap-hit of $5.33 million), no longer fit in the picture.

Prior to the lockout, the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs were the two teams that many pointed to as likely destinations for Luongo.

The Montreal native had spent five seasons with the Panthers earlier in his career and still owns a home there. Luongo has also made it known that he would like to return there.

However, it is believed that the Panthers don't have enough assets to satisfy what the Canucks are looking to receive in a trade. That's where the Maple Leafs come into play. The team has a crop of forwards that would help fill out Vancouver's group, with some potential names of interest being center Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri. Toronto also needs a starting goalie as questions surround the capabilities of 24-year-old James Reimer.

Of course, this is all contingent on Luongo's willingness to play in Toronto as he possesses a no-trade clause in his contract.

According to a report by Rob Longley in the Toronto Sun on Monday, Luongo has given general manager Mike Gillis permission to field the best offers he can.

Stating that he is open to several ideas, Luongo admitted Toronto was obviously part of the equation:

"I have a lot of respect for Toronto, Brian Burke and the Leafs. They are obviously part of the equation, there's no denying that. But there's a lot of things that can happen. I want to make sure I'm aware of the possibilities."

During the lockout, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported that the Canucks and Maple Leafs had worked out the framework of a trade that would be executed once the lockout was lifted. This was denied by both teams as those types of discussions were not allowed during the labor stoppage.

Now that the lockout has lifted, it's a safe bet to assume those discussions will pick up once again.

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