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Luongo is on his way out

The Sports Xchange
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--Barring the totally unexpected, G Roberto Luongo is on his way out after saying he will waive his no-trade clause if the team asks him to. It will. In the playoffs, he was supplanted by backup Cory Schneider, who is due to become a restricted free agent and receive a big raise. With two capable starters in tow, Vancouver's goaltending situation has become untenable. There is only room for one, and it makes more sense to keep Schneider after Luongo viewed the three most important games of the season from the bench. Schneider is young, cheaper and shows more upside. But Luongo still has 10 years to run on a 12-year contract that could be an albatross for the team that acquires him, so the potential return is likely limited and will include a player on a hefty contract.

--Coach Alain Vigneault's future has come under speculation following the club's early playoff exit. He is entering the final year of his contract and did not appear as usual at the end-of-season news conference. GM Mike Gillis said he wanted to do the presser on his own because, hey, he runs the show here and he's responsible for the decisions. Gillis then went out of his way to praise Vigneault.

Vigneault's status is expected to be clarified within the next two weeks, when he will likely receive a contract extension. It makes absolutely no sense for him to go into the season as a lame-duck coach. As Gillis noted, Vigneault, a former NHL coach of the year, is the club's winningest bench boss and is coming off two first-place-overall finishes and a seventh-game loss in the Stanley Cup finals.

Is this, Gillis asked, the time to start getting rid of people? In Vigneault's case, surely not.

--D Sami Salo, 37, has come to the crossroads of his career. Due to become an unrestricted free agent, the veteran Finn wants to keep playing but said he will take some time to determine whether to stay in the NHL or return to Europe. His uncertainty suggests that the Canucks are not begging him to stay. Salo has already taken a pay cut and signs point to his exit.

In the past three years, GM Mike Gillis has gotten rid of aging rearguards. Mathias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell and Christian Ehrhoff all left via free agency as Gillis let them go. In Ehrhoff's case, the Canucks might have wanted him to stay, but he received a big contract from Buffalo. There is a clear trend here, and Salo is caught up in it now.

--The Canucks must decide whether to re-sign LW Mason Raymond, who is slated to become a restricted free agent July 1. Vancouver has the right to match any offer he receives from another club. He earned $2.5 million this season and the Canucks must make a qualifying offer worth at least that much to lock him down. Based on his production over the past two seasons, he is not worth that much.

--With G Roberto Luongo's days in the organization numbered and Cory Schneider due to inherit his starting role, Vancouver needs a new backup. Farmhand Eddie Lack is the heir apparent, but he lacks NHL experience. The Canucks may opt to go with a proven veteran instead and give him more playing time in the minors.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I loved being here the last six years and my career has really taken off. If I'm here in the future, then great. If I'm not, that's good also." -- Goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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