Rejoice, NHL trade and free agent rumor fans! The Rumor Mill is alive! It’s alive!! Huzzah! Let the joy bells ring!
VANCOUVER SUN: Brad Ziemer claims the Canucks need a”third-line centre, a depth defenceman and probably an experienced backup goalie”, and trading Roberto Luongo could go a long way toward addressing some of those needs, perhaps before the potential January 19th start to the season. Media reports claiming the Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs have a deal in place shipping Luongo to Toronto have been denied by Canucks GM Mike Gillis and Leafs GM Brian Burke. Ziemer suggests Toronto or the Florida Panthers (Luongo’s former team) seem logical landing spots for Luongo. If Gillis does trade Luongo, he’ll have to look at adding a backup via trade or free agency, as Eddie Lack has been sidelined with a nagging groin injury.
TSN.CA: Bob McKenzie also believed the Maple Leafs and Panthers as possible suitors for Luongo, as well as perhaps the Edmonton Oilers.
TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger reports the Luongo-to-Maple Leafs rumors are gaining momentum, claiming the Leafs and Canucks have had serious trade talks, as Canucks management were spotted scouting Toronto Marlies games last fall. Zeisberger doubts Luongo will be shipped to the Panthers as they’re looking to shed salary, and Luongo was told by Canucks management the Panthers weren’t an option. The Canucks are rumored to be interested in center Tyler Bozak, plus would have interest in “two additional components”, of which Nazem Kadri might be one. A Vancouver source claims Canucks management wish to study the new CBA first before making any decision on Luongo.
Lance Hornby, however, suggests Leafs GM Burke might be having second thoughts about Luongo, wondering if he’d be worthwhile for a shortened season when he likely won’t be in top form. Hornby also suggest Luongo could become an amnesty buyout candidate, which would make him a free agent and thus spare the Leafs having to move assets for him. It’s also possible the Canucks could hang onto Luongo as insurance during this shortened season, then peddle him this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ah, the Luongo trade rumors, the one thing that refused to die during the recent NHL lockout. The overall expectation is the Canucks will trade Luongo in order to shed his salary now, rather than scramble next summer to do so. Still, there is some risk to the Canucks if they do this, not the least of which is finding a suitable backup for Cory Schneider. Luongo has been a good soldier throughout all this, refusing to make waves or create tension over his situation. I daresay he’d be accommodating if the Canucks opt to retain him for one more season. That being said, if there’s a good return to be had, and a team willing to pay it, Gillis could pull the trigger in the coming weeks.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson suggests Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff could become an amnesty buyout candidate this summer. Horcoff has two years at $5.5 million per season remaining on his contract.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jame O’Brien lists the notable unsigned restricted and unrestricted free agents.