Roberto Luongo dealt to Panthers for Shawn Matthias, Markstrom

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Roberto Luongo has been traded back to the Florida Panthers, more than a year after it was expected.

The startling news was broken by Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports on Tuesday, only a couple of days after Luongo was benched in the Heritage Classic. The Canucks also sent left wing Steven Anthony to the Panthers. In exchange Vancouver gets Florida's top goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and centerman Shawn Matthias.

The Canucks, meanwhile, will also retain some of Luongo's salary, per Craig Custance.

Before anything else, let's ponder this: Luongo and Tim Thomas are going to be teammates. After the Stanley Cup Final three years ago, that's pretty amazing and highly entertaining. There is going to be some awesome tire pumping going on.

This move comes so far out of left field. Luongo asked for a trade out of Vancouver at the end of the 2011-12 season and the Canucks tried to appease him but couldn't find the right deal. Eventually they decided that his contract through 2022 for $5.33 million was just too difficult to move, especially with the recapture clause. So they traded Cory Schneider instead, seemingly turning the crease over to Luongo again for good. Everybody seemed settled on the fact that he was going to remain a Canuck.

"Stunned. I was not expecting it," Luongo said, speaking to the media. "I'm happy for myself and my family but a little sad to be leaving Vancouver.

"I thought my contract was untradeable. Just when I was starting to let my guard down, the trade happens. Go figure. "

When he asked for a trade, Luongo was very open about where he wanted to be traded, Florida. The Panthers were the team that Luongo was with before he was dealt to Vancouver and he has maintained a residence in South Florida. It took him a long time to get that wish but he finally did. He was quite happy about this on Twitter.

What sparked this renewed interest in a trade very well could have been that Heritage Classic decision. Luongo was very clearly not happy about that decision, and just a couple of days later he's getting his top wish and returning to Florida where he played so well for years before going to Vancouver. He joins a young team that's out of the playoff race this season but he'll try to change their fortunes next season.

"Roberto is one of the game's elite goaltenders and we are happy to welcome him back to South Florida," Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. "With this acquisition, we have solidified our goaltending depth with a top-tiered netminder for the next several seasons. Roberto is a three-time Vezina finalist, who has experienced tremendous success throughout his 13-year playing career, which includes six post-season appearances, including the Stanley Cup Final, two Olympic Gold Medals and three All-Star selections. We look forward to his contributions to our club on the ice as well as his continued philanthropic efforts in the South Florida community."

For the Canucks it's astonishing that after last season they had both Schneider and Luongo and now they have neither. For the remainder of this season it looks like the job will be up to Eddie Lack to try and get the Canucks into the playoffs with some help from Markstrom, who has played well lately in the AHL. To have two great goalies and now to have none is a remarkable turn of events.

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