This trade deadline wasn’t supposed to be about Roberto Luongo for the Canucks. That was last trade deadline. Have we gone back in time? If we did, let us all take a lesson from Back to the Future and stay away from our moms.
No one saw this coming. Well, except us. (We gloat because this rarely happens.) But other than us, no one saw this coming. Long after it seemed like Luongo was stuck in Vancouver for good, he was finally traded to where he wanted to go all along: Florida. He’ll join none other than Tim Thomas in net, forming the odd couple of goaltending tandems.
Here are the bare bones details: the Canucks are sending Roberto Luongo and prospect Steven Anthony to Florida, while retaining about 15% of Luongo’s contract. The Panthers are sending goaltender Jacob Markstrom and centre Shawn Matthias back to Vancouver.
After that, things get fuzzy.
While some speculated that this might have been in the works for a while, which is part of why Eddie Lack got the start for the Heritage Classic, James Duthie, who is fairly well-connected on this one, said it was his understanding that this was part of the fallout of that decision, and that Luongo’s agent Pat Brisson contacted Mike Gillis after Tortorella made the decision.
If that is the case, then the turnaround from trade request to actual trade was remarkably quick, spanning just two days. Fans might rightly ask where that haste was last year.
I’m extremely skeptical that this decision was related to just one start, though, even one as symbolic as the Heritage Classic. Luongo has wanted out of this situation for a long time, now, and having yet another young goaltender threaten to take over his job just exacerbated matters.
As for the trade itself, it’s a pretty solid trade for the Canucks — in a vacuum. Jacob Markstrom was supposed to be the future in goal for the Panthers and has been superb in the AHL, but has struggled in his few NHL stints. He’s still got the talent to be an NHL goaltender, however, and it will be interesting to see him battle for playing time with Eddie Lack, considering Lack was Markstrom’s back in Sweden with Brynas.
Those two, like us, must be feeling like they just went back in time.
As for Matthias, he’s someone the Canucks have apparently had their eyes on for some time. The 26-year-old has size and should be a good fit at third-line centre. He’s signed through next season at $1.75 million. If the Canucks choose not to trade Kesler, that gives them a foursome down the middle of Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Matthias, and Brad Richardson, which is pretty solid. I mean, they’re probably still going to trade Kesler, but shut up shut up enjoy the moment.
As for Steven Anthony, he’s fallen off a cliff since he was selected in the 7th round in 2009 and was playing this season in the CHL with the St. Charles Chill. It’s possible he was included in the deal to give the Canucks some flexibility with their total number of contracts, as he has little to no value in the NHL and his contract expires this year.
And now we step outside the vacuum.
In the larger picture, this is just adds to the mess. Just last season, the Canucks had the best goaltending tandem in the league, with two franchise goaltenders in Luongo and Cory Schneider. As of today, they have neither of those goaltenders and Markstrom, Matthias, and Bo Horvat to show for it. Replacing Luongo and Schneider with Lack and Markstrom is a little bit less than ideal.
It’s tough to say this situation wasn’t woefully mismanaged.
That’s sad. In fact, this whole day is sad for Canucks fans. Roberto Luongo was the best goaltender in franchise history, leading the Canucks to two Presidents’ Trophies, taking the team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and winning a gold medal with Team Canada in Vancouver in 2010. He was also one of the funniest hockey players in the game, rescuing his reputation as a sourpuss with the best Twitter account in all of sports.
We’re really going to miss him.
On the bright side, even though he didn’t play in the Heritage Classic, what a farewell. After all he’s been through, having 54,000 fans chanting “We Want Lu” in your final game is a heck of a farewell.