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Why would the Panthers want Luongo anyway?

Jul 24, 2012, 3:27 PM EDT

Roberto Luongo Getty Images

It’s a question many have been wondering. And since it’s Florida Panthers day on PHT, we’ll wonder it below.

The Panthers didn’t have the NHL’s best goaltending in 2011-12; however, compared to teams like Toronto, Columbus and Chicago, they were remarkably solid between the pipes.

Jose Theodore started most of the games, finishing 22-16-11 with a .917 save percentage. The 35-year-old has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $1.5 million.

The Panthers’ other veteran netminder, Scott Clemmensen, was no slouch either, finishing 14-6-6 with a .913 save percentage. Also 35, he recently signed a two-year extension worth $2.4 million.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Roberto Luongo’s save percentage (.919) was better than both Theodore’s and Clemmensen’s, but only slightly.

And here’s the most important part – Luongo, 33, is under contract until 2021-22 with a cap hit just north of $5.3 million.

Also consider the Panthers have highly touted prospect Jacob Markstrom waiting in the wings. The 31st overall pick in the 2008 draft made seven appearances in 2011-12 and performed rather well (.923 SV%).

So that’s the argument against getting Luongo. The argument for? Let’s see…

– A career .919 save percentage in the regular season. Since 2000-01, it hasn’t been lower than .913 in a single season. That’s consistency.

– Since joining the Canucks in 2006-07, he’s made 60 starts in the playoffs, winning 32 of them with a .916 save percentage and five shutouts.

Yes, he’s had some dreadful performances along the way, but a lot of goalies don’t even earn the opportunity to melt down in big games.

And if coach Alain Vigneault had been a little quicker to bring out the hook in those situations, maybe Luongo would’ve been in a better position mentally to bounce back.

Hey, just saying – most coaches wouldn’t have let their starter get ventilated for eight goals on the road in the Stanley Cup finals. (Cue the Kernkraft 400!)

But that’s another story. Where were we? Oh, right…

– He backstopped Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 with the weight of a nation on his shoulders.

The big issue is the 10 years remaining on Luongo’s contract. For Panthers GM Dale Tallon, it would be a considerable risk to take on that sort of commitment.

Of course, it should be noted the last four years of the deal are for minimal salary and it’s possible, if not likely, he’ll have retired by then.

  1. swizzler16 - Jul 24, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Gillis doesn’t ‘need’ to trade Luongo either. Schneider has proven his merit and won the starting job, but there is no reason that the two of them can’t continue to work as a successful tandem like before.

    The Canucks could start the season with their current lineup and remain very competitive. There are no glaring holes to fill, although they could use some upgrades at forward.

    With all credit and no disrespect to Kirk McLean, it’s an unfortunate and logjam that the two best ever goalies to wear the Canucks jersey happen to be fighting for the same job.

    No doubt, many teams are incredibly envious.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 24, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      I just don’t see how both can return, because Schneider has won the right to be the starter, he deserves the chance to do so without having to look over his shoulder.

      If Schneider struggles in a few games early in the season will Vignault make a change to Luongo and what would that do to Schneider’s confidence? What if the fans start chanting for “Looooou?”. What does that do to the locker room?

      I agree that the contracts make it so that both could easily be kept but I’m just not sure that’s best for Schneider or the team.

      Last point: Kirk McLean took the Canucks to a Cup final and to game 7 in that series (watch the save on Robert Reichel in OT in game 7 against the Flames) he went to 2 All Star games (back when they meant something) and was nominated for the Vezina trophy twice, with all due respect to Cory Schneider he’s done absolutely nothing to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kirk McLean! Right now Schneider is nothing more than a modern day version of Corey Hirsch.

  2. ray2013 - Jul 24, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    With all due respect to Theodore and Clemmenson, I don’t think any team is necessarily happy with those two as your goalies (unless you’re Toronto or Edmonton). I see that Markstrom is a highly-touted goalie they hope can come in and be a stud, but over the years how many highly-touted goalies have come into the league and not lived up to expectations (paging Rick DiPietro)?

    Luongo is a durable, effective starter with a .919 career save percentage and 60 career shutouts. Having watched him for a few years, he doesn’t seem like a player that likes the insanity of the Canucks fandom. Win two in a row, and they are greater than the 1976 Canadiens. Lose two in a row, and everyone needs to be traded/fired.
    The Canuck fans currently have a love affair with Schneider. I wonder how long until the honeymoon is over.

    • freneticgarfieldfan - Jul 24, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      …over the years how many highly-touted goalies have come into the play-offs and not lived up to expectations (yes, I’m looking at you Bobby Lou)…

  3. pgpcbuild - Jul 24, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Face it, Luongo is better than both Thedore and Clemmenson, there not even equals, stats aside, Luongo wins games and that’s the bottom line.

    • freneticgarfieldfan - Jul 24, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      Luongo wins meaningless games and that’s hardly the bottom line (unless you’re Vancouver and you’re happy with the Presidents Trophy).

  4. ikillchicken - Jul 24, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Look, it’s pretty simple really.

    Luongo is obviously a better goaltender than either of Florida’s guys. Does he have faults? Absolutely. Anyone with a shred of objectivity can see that he’s still a very good goaltender though. So yeah, obviously Florida would want him.

    Do they desperately need him though? No. Their guys are solid. That’s probably why we haven’t seen a deal yet. They’ll happily add Luongo if they price is right. If it isn’t, they won’t.

  5. blomfeld - Jul 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    “NOW HEAR THIS” all you Luongo lovers, apologists and sychophants !

    The fact of the matter is, that “you” people will go on “incessantly” about the fact that your man is “only” a 5.4 million dollar cap hit … and that any team “lucky enough” to land him, will be getting a “bargain” etc. Well what a complete I joke I say ! That’s like some creepy car salesman telling you that you can have that brand new “runner” for only a $135.00 monthly payment. The only problem with that however, is that he won’t tell you that your payments are stretched over a 120 month period ! Luongo has 54 million dollars remaining on his contract, yet anyone who signs him will be essentially purchasing “2 x years” of b-grade “top 20″ goal-tending, nothing more and nothing less. I’m actually not sure why Gillis didn’t amortize his contract over a thousand years ?

    I’m still convinced that this fool will end up back in Florida where he belongs. But the longer this goes on, the higher the price becomes for the Canucks to be finally rid of this man. And that’s a shame, as there are “quality” people on the Canucks who don’t deserve this type of treachery, including the Sedin brothers, Schneider, Bieksa, Edler, Burrows, etc. Vancouver has a very “bright” road ahead, but that can only be traveled once this “parasitic” liability has been dealt with !

    GO CANUCKS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • rekingcrew - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:14 AM

      “Thank you” for all of the “punctuation”, “Elaine”.

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