More speculation on Roberto Luongo, while Tim Thomas’ future with the Bruins seems uncertain.

 

Could Luongo & Thomas be on the move this summer?

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Canucks GM Mike Gillis yesterday denied reports Roberto Luongo was about to submit a list of preferred trade destinations. “We’ve met, but we’ve decided we’ll take our time and talk in the next few days over the phone,” Gillis said. “I’m not quite sure why something like that [the reports] would be out there.” Since becoming Canucks GM, Gillis has said he wouldn’t ask a player to waive their “no-trade” clause.

SPORTSNET’s Nick Kypreos recently reported via Twitter “Luongo asks for trade. Van didn’t even need to ask him to waive NTC. He tells them himself in exit meeting he wants out”

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford reported one of the appealing things about Luongo’s contract is it doesn’t contain a “no-movement” clause, meaning he could be buried in the minors later in his career to free up cap space, but while that’s allowable under the current CBA, it might not be in the next one.

TSN.CA: Darren Dreger reported it’s believed Luongo would prefer moving back to Florida, provided there’s interest from the Panthers and/or Tampa Bay Lightning, and claims the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks “are also on the 33-year-old goalie’s list”, though he’d have reservations going to either market. Dreger suggests Luongo’s status as an elite goalie is fading, which might prompt the Canucks into taking on an expensive contract to “sweeten the pot”. He believes there will be interest in Luongo on the trade market, but how much will depend on how creative the Canucks are willing to get.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle lists the reasons Luongo would be a good fit for the Maple Leafs.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Damian Cristodero on why adding Luongo would be difficult for the Lightning, citing the veteran goalie’s expensive, lengthy contract, and the difficulty fitting it into the Bolts cap space. “Many believe left wing Ryan Malone and his $4.5 million cap hit is the key, but Yzerman and coach Guy Boucher like Malone a lot”, writes Cristodero. ” He provides a physical element the Lightning desperately needs and his actual cash salary next season is just $3 million.” Malone also has a “no-movement” clause. Moving a forward like Malone or Vincent Lecavalier for Luongo would thin their depth among their top six forwards. He believes GM Steve Yzerman would prefer to land a younger goalie who can grow alongside the team’s young stars.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Luongo might not  be the only Canuck who could be on the move this summer, suggesting center Manny Malhotra and winger Mason Raymond may have played their final games as Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Luongo going to Chicago, as the Blackhawks seem committed to Corey Crawford as their starter. The Panthers have another season invested in Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom on deck, whom they see as their goalie of the future. I doubt they want to take on Luongo’s big contract, then end up trying to move him in two or three years if Markstrom proves ready to be an NHL starter. Cristodero makes a terrific case why Luongo isn’t a good fit with the Lightning. The Maple Leafs would be the best fit of the bunch, provided GM Brian Burke is willing to take on the type of contract he’s railed against in recent years. As for Malhotra and Raymond, they could be shopped this summer, or the former could be bought out of the final year of his contract, while the Canucks could decide not to qualify Raymond’s rights, making him a UFA.

BOSTON HERALD: Stephen Harris and Steve Conroy report on possible off-season moves by the Bruins, with the future of Tim Thomas topping the list. Both note Thomas, 38, has one year left on his contract, and his “no-movement” clause expires on July 1st, making it possible for him to be dealt anywhere in the league. They wonder if Thomas gets shopped this summer, or if they keep him for that final season, allowing Tuukka Rask to be eased into the starter’s role. Moving his salary could free up cap space to pursue Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter or New Jersey winger Zach Parise via unrestricted free agency.

GM Peter Chiarelli must also decide if inconsistent forward David Krejci ($5.25 million per season) is worth retaining, and if he’ll re-sign RFA forward Benoit Pouliot. He also has to consider re-signing UFA forwards Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reported Thomas’ post-game comments after the Bruins were eliminated by the Capitals seem to suggest he could be moving on this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that the two starting goalies of last year’s Stanley Cup Finalists could be on the move only a year later. If they retain Thomas, it’ll be to help Rask transition into the starter’s role. They don’t have to rush him out the door. Yes, trading him could free up salary, and there would be teams interested in Thomas as a short-term starting goalie, but again, the Bruins aren’t in any hurry or facing pressure to move him. Chiarelli will listen to offers.

They do have over $59 million invested in 18 players for next season but one of those is Marc Savard, whose NHL career is, for all intent and purpose, over because of concussion injuries. They could try to move Krejci, but they’ll probably have better luck shipping out Thomas. The uncertainty over what’s contained in the next CBA will also be a factor in whatever moves Chiarelli makes this summer.