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Panthers prepare for Luongo

Roberto Luongo spent five seasons with the Florida Panthers before moving on to Vancouver. Now it looks like he's heading back. (Photo by Mark Konezny/NHLImages)

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Roberto Luongo spent five seasons with the Florida Panthers before moving on to Vancouver. Now it looks like he's heading back. (Photo by Mark Konezny/NHLImages)

Speculation that Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is headed back to Florida continues to percolate.

Luongo, who played five seasons with the Panthers before being shipped to the Canucks in 2006, is thought to look favorably on a trade back to his old club. Miami Herald writer and THN correspondent George Richards recently reported via Twitter the word on the street was the Panthers were internally preparing for Luongo's return.

That opinion was echoed by Mike Berardino of the Sun-Sentinel, who cited a Panthers source claiming time was on their side in regards to a Luongo acquisition.

Berardino claimed there's a strong sense, privately and publicly, a Luongo reunion will happen.

Berardino does, however, point out the obvious stumbling blocks. Panthers GM Dale Tallon isn't keen to part with promising prospects and Luongo's return would create a logjam in goal.

Jose Theodore and the recently re-signed Scott Clemmensen is their current tandem, while blue-chipper Jacob Markstrom (No. 8 overall in THN’s Future Watch) remains in the wings. Theodore or Clemmensen would have to be moved, while Markstrom would remain buried in the minors for another season.

The Panthers ownership would have to be willing to take on Luongo's big contract, which has 10 more years remaining, at a cap hit of $5.3 million per season. It’s assumed Tallon would prefer the Canucks take back some salary in return.

It remains to be seen if the Canucks summer waiting game ends with ‘Bobby Lu’ going to Florida, another NHL team or if he remains in Vancouver.

OILERS HEMSKY BACK IN THE RUMOR MILL

When Edmonton Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension it was assumed that would bring an end to the trade rumors dogging him for the past two years.

Hemsky's name resurfaced earlier this week, however, when on July 1 TSN's Ryan Rishaug took to Twitter speculating the 28-year-old was in play on the trade front.

Edmonton Journal columnist Jim Matheson subsequently reported Oilers GM Steve Tambellini steadfastly said he's had no discussions to trade Hemsky, but Matheson wondered if he’ll end up as the third-line right winger behind Jordan Eberle and promising Nail Yakupov.

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It's a fair question. Eberle is already established as the Oilers top right winger and if Yakupov cracks the lineup and outplays Hemsky, that'll bump the injury-plagued veteran down the depth chart, which could result in his name once again popping up in rumors. And that will raise another question: how difficult will it be for the Oilers to move a player who’s fading, has a $5-million per season contract and a lengthy injury history?

BRUINS LOOKING FOR BARGAINS

The Boston Bruins are staying out of the bidding for the top available free agents, but they could still take a dip into the shallow end of this summer's pool.

Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has been, to use his words, dabbling a little bit in the UFA market.

Haggerty suspects Chiarelli is seeking a Mark Recchi-type checking line veteran with leadership ability, along the lines of Phoenix Coyotes right winger Shane Doan, St. Louis Blues center Jason Arnott or San Jose Sharks left winger Daniel Winnik.

Not sure why Haggerty listed Doan in that group, because if he becomes available there will be considerable interest from clubs willing to pay big bucks for him as a first- or second-line winger.

The others, however, will be of interest for teams, like the Bruins, seeking bargains via free agency.
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.

 

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