We’re less than a week away from the 2012 NHL Draft, which means NHL trade rumors are set to start picking up greatly.
The two things you can count on hearing in rumors heading into next week are Roberto Luongo and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether the two are separate in rumors or together, we had already heard plenty about them before the season was even over.
It’s no secret that Luongo is hoping he has played his last game with the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo submitted a list of teams he would approve a trade for and the Canucks appear ready to move on without him, in favor of Cory Schneider, who they’ll have to re-sign as a restricted free agent.
Speculation has been all over the place as far as where Luongo could end up. Some had projected one of the league’s two Florida squads or an even bigger Canadian market, with the Maple Leafs.
The Florida Panthers could end up being a possibility. But you can cross the Tampa Bay Lightning off the list of potential destinations for Bobby Lu. The Bolts completed a trade to acquire goaltender Anders Lindback, meaning he will likely be their starter heading into 2012-2013.
Though other teams remain a possibility, the Lightning dipping out of a potential Luongo trade limits Vancouver’s options even more. So much so that there may only be one team that is willing to acquire Luongo. Toronto.
The Leafs are expected to at least make some sort of offer for Luongo. With the Canucks already having a solution in place behind him, once Schneider is locked up, it isn’t likely to cost Toronto too much in terms of players. The Leafs obviously need help in plenty of areas, but goaltending is one of their biggest needs.
Though he’s been labeled something of a headcase, Luongo is still one of the most successful goaltenders in the league. He had a decent season this year, with a 2.41 GAA and .919 save percentage, following up a season in which he posted a 2.11 and .928. Luongo appeared to have lost his job after surrendering seven goals in two games to the Los Angeles Kings, with Schneider starting the rest of the series.
It remains to be seen if Luongo can succeed in a market with even higher pressure than Vancouver. But if the Canucks hope to trade ol’ Bobby Lu, the Maple Leafs might just be their only option. If something is going to happen between the two clubs, it could go down within the next week. Stay tuned.