It's been a rollercoaster of a year for Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. From looking like Luongo would surely be traded before the season to looking like he'd stay a Canuck more recently, the trade chatter is firing up again as the NHL trade deadline looms.
This time there seems to be a little more smoke signaling a deal could happen, especially with this comment from general manager Mike Gillis.
Laurence Gilman, the Canucks' assistant general manager also told TSN.ca Sunday that discussions were “beyond the tire-kicking stage.”
"We need a third-line centre, but no one is going to steal Roberto from us," Gilman told TSN. "We're not moving him for a rental. We need something for today and tomorrow."
Now that it's out there that four teams are involved, that's the kind of competition Gillis needs for the price to go up on Luongo to get the deal he wants.
Though the four teams were not named, speculation and recent rumors point to the Toronto Maple Leafs as being one of them. Toronto, of course, has been a rumored trade partner since the summer.
Leafs GM Dave Nonis has said he would like to add a veteran goaltender, but told reporters Monday that it is not a priority.
“It's the same as every other position,” Nonis said. “If we can add a goaltender that strengthens our group and helps the guys that we have here, then we would look to do it. If not, as we've said all along, we think we have two NHL-calibre goalies. They've proved that so far this year, and goaltending hasn't been an issue.”
Could that be Nonis simply playing coy?
According to Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province, the Canucks would need Tyler Bozak in any deal from Toronto, but the Leafs have been unwilling to dangle him. Bozak is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and if Vancouver doesn't want a rental, the Canucks brass likely would hope to sign the center to a new contract as well.
At this point, there could be more pressure on Gillis to make a deal. Aside from an ugly start Saturday, Cory Schneider has looked solid between the pipes and likely could handle starting duties down the stretch . Meanwhile, the Canucks have lacked consistent scoring punch.
If interest is at the level Gillis says it is for Luongo, the time may be right to finally pull the trigger.
It could be an interesting couple of days, particularly between the Canucks and Maple Leafs if Gillis has other suitors. Based on the comments from both general managers, it seems like a bit of a cat and mouse game presently. Both seem to be saying things that give themselves some leverage against the other. It's a situation worth watching.
No matter what happens, the Roberto Luongo trade saga ends – at least temporarily – Wednesday, one way or the other.