Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo thought he was untradeable. The Panthers found a way to bring him back to Florida.
After nearly eight years apart, Luongo was the centerpiece of a four-player trade between Florida and the Canucks on Tuesday. The Panthers sent goalie Jacob Markstrom — once considered their future in net — and forward Shawn Matthias to the Canucks for Luongo and forward Steven Anthony.
It is a bold move for the Panthers, who almost certainly will wind up missing the playoffs for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons.
“We’re getting a great goaltender, a proven commodity,” Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. “Jacob has got great upside but we needed to make a statement and Luongo’s numbers are terrific.”
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Markstrom’s potential had been discussed for years and he would have been a more affordable option than Luongo, whose $64 million deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2021-22 season.
Luongo, 34, is a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada, with 367 NHL career victories and a 2.51 goals-against average. He played for Florida from 2000 to 2006.
Luongo told Canada’s TSN Radio he thought his contract would prevent him from being dealt.
“Go figure, right?” Luongo told reporters. “I’m really out of words right now.”
Luongo lost his starting job to Cory Schneider about 23 months ago, leading to what The Vancouver Sun called a “goaltending Canucks soap opera.”
Schneider was traded to New Jersey in June.
Luongo was the No. 1 goalie for the Canucks this season but rookie Eddie Lack, 26, has started each of the four games since the Olympic break ended.
Luongo had a 19-16-6 record for the Canucks this season; Lack is 9-10-4.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Antoine Vermette scored late in the first period, Mike Smith stopped 23 shots and the Phoenix Coyotes blanked Vancouver 1-0 Tuesday.
Lack made 31 saves but lacked offensive support and the Canucks dropped to 1-9-1 in their last 11 games.