The rumor mill was percolating Monday over reports claiming Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was trying to engineer a trade to his former club, the Florida Panthers.
Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline tweeted he’d been told by “a very good source” Luongo “to this point” had declined to waive his no-trade clause for the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs and that the only club he’d agree to be dealt to was the Panthers.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie, however, followed up by reporting it’s far too early in the process to suggest where Luongo could end up.
McKenzie also reported the Panthers and Maple Leafs appear to have the greatest interest in Luongo, but the respective GMs of both clubs believed the Canucks need to lower their asking price. No specifics thus far on what that might be.
It was assumed Canucks GM Mike Gillis wished to dump Luongo’s $5.3-million cap hit, but apparently he expects a decent return for the veteran netminder.
Prior to the Leafs shipping defenseman Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for left winger James van Riemsdyk, there were rumors Schenn had been offered to the Canucks.
The Panthers, meanwhile, don’t want to part with any of their promising players and it’s been reported they’d prefer the Canucks took back some salary in return.
McKenzie noted that, contrary to rumors, Luongo hasn’t been formally asked for a list of teams he’d accept a trade to, nor has he rejected any specific clubs.
Gillis has repeatedly stated in recent weeks he’s in no rush to ship out Luongo.
It’s believed Gillis would prefer to move Luongo to clear cap space for re-signing restricted free agent Cory Schneider, but he can go over the projected $70.3-million salary cap by 10 percent during the off-season, provided he’s cap-compliant when next season begins.
The Canucks currently sit with $55.7 million in payroll committed to 18 players (including Luongo) for next season, giving them $14.6 million in available cap space.
Gillis has more than enough room to re-sign Schneider, restock his roster and entertain offers for Luongo.
For now, time is on his side.
MARKET FOR OTT HOT
The trade that sent Mike Ribeiro out of Dallas on Friday to the Washington Capitals has generated speculation over which other Stars will be on their way out this summer.
Left wingers Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow attracted considerable interest from rival clubs prior to this past season’s trade deadline. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun recently reported there’s continued interest in Ott, whose versatility and size, LeBrun thinks, would make him a perfect fit for the Montreal Canadiens, who lack toughness.
The 29-year-old has two years at a cap hit of $2.9 million remaining on his contract, making him an affordable pickup for clubs seeking a player of his caliber.
HJALMARSSON PUT UP BY BLACKHAWKS
Two years after matching an offer sheet from the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, the Chicago Blackhawks may be preparing to part with him.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Adam L. Jahns reported the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers were believed to be among the clubs with interest in the 25-year-old Hjalmarsson, who has two seasons at $3.5 million per remaining on his contract. The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning may also have interest.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman recently told Jahns he wasn’t seeking anything specific on the trade market. It’s believed he’s looking for depth at center and on defense.
It may seem contradictory of Bowman to shop Halmarsson if he’s seeking blueline depth, but this could be a move to clear cap space to pursue Nashville Predators pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.
GARRISON ATTRACTS INTEREST AFTER BREAKOT YEAR
Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison is in line for a big payday if he becomes a UFA July 1.
The Panthers hope to re-sign the 27-year-old Garrison and are believed to be in contract talks with his agent.
Speculation arose heading into last weekend’s draft GM Dale Tallon would shop his rights if unable to get him under contract before the UFA market opens on Sunday.
ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers recently suggested Garrison would be an affordable option for the Blackhawks if they fail to sign Ryan Suter.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that sources claimed the Blues also have interest in Garrison.
Though he’s only been in the NHL for two-and-a-half seasons, Garrison attracted attention with a 16-goal, 33-point effort this past season with the Panthers.
Given the lack of quality depth in the UFA market, he stands to get a substantial raise above the $700,000 he earned – whether it's from the Panthers or another club.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.