Could the Roberto Luongo era be coming to a close in Vancouver? Could an early playoff exit spell the end of Jordan Staal’s tenure with the Penguins? What are the Blue Jackets off-season plans? Read on to find out!
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford speculated if the Roberto Luongo era could be coming to a close in Vancouver, especially if the Canucks are eliminated tonight from the playoffs, regardless if Luongo is in goal. Botchford believes the Canucks are “moving forward with (Cory) Schneider in its plans”, adding “The Canucks don’t want to trade him.” That would mean Luongo “isn’t likely to ever regain his seat as the definitive No. 1 goalie in Vancouver. That’s not something he’s going to embrace, no matter how well these two players work together. He’s a workhorse, and fiercely competitive. And he’s 33 years old, not 40.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Consensus has the Canucks trading Schneider, a restricted free agent this summer, as Luongo, with an expensive, lengthy contract and a “no-trade” clause, is entrenched as their starting goalie. Still, there’s been a few voices willing to speculate on the Canucks keeping Schneider and trying to move Luongo. If Schneider gets the start in Game Four, regardless of the outcome, it would likely stoke speculation of the Canucks parting ways with Luongo, something which wouldn’t be easy, given that contract.
PITTSBURGHLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi reports Penguins forward Jordan Staal brushed off trades rumors, which claimed he was unhappy with the Penguins and could be shopped in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could perhaps look at shaking things up a bit in the off-season if they should be eliminated by the Flyers in the opening round of this year’s playoffs, but given Staal’s two-way play, it’s unlikely he’ll be moved. It’s not the first time Staal has been mentioned in trade rumors in recent years, and nothing came of it. Keep that in mind.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline recently reported Blue Jackets management are more likely to reshape, rather than rebuild their roster. It’s a certainty they’ll trade captain Rick Nash in the off-season, likely by the June entry draft. They also have the Kings first round pick, which they received as part of the return in the Jeff Carter trade, which they could also try to shop leading up to, and including, the opening day of this year’s entry draft. Landing a quality starting goalie is their priority, and they could target Vancouver’s Cory Schneider. Other possibilities include the Kings’ Jonathan Bernier, the Predators Anders Lindback, and the Bruins Tuukka Rask, though the Predators may be unwilling to deal with a division rival, while the Bruins see Rask as the heir apparent to Tim Thomas. Moving Nash would further weaken an already anemic offense, management will try to bring in scoring as part of a return for Nash if he doesn’t land a goalie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets could package that Kings first round pick with Nash in hopes of landing both a starting goalie and a good, young scoring forward. Problem is, there’s not a lot of quality goalies available, either in the trade market, or via free agency.