Roberto Luongo was expected to be traded or bought out this summer to make room for Cory Schneider in Vancouver, but it was Schneider who was moved out of town. (Getty Images)
Roberto Luongo's decision to change agents has some observers believing the veteran goaltender is laying the groundwork for a trade out of Vancouver.
Ever since the Canucks traded Cory Schneider to New Jersey at the NHL draft, Luongo has said little to the press, but it's believed the move left him shocked and upset.
Canucks owner Franceso Aquilini and GM Mike Gillis have since paid separate visits to Luongo in Florida to smooth things over. Gillis downplayed any unhappiness on the goalie's part.
But Luongo’s decision to hire powerhouse agents J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson reignited speculation over his future with the Canucks. Meanwhile, Gilles Lupien (Luongo's former agent) blamed Gillis for failing to find a trade for his former client.
Barry and Brisson could have better luck than Lupien in finding a trade for Luongo, but they'll have to be miracle workers to pull it off this summer.
The remaining nine years and $40 million on Luongo's contract would be tough to move under normal circumstances, but with the salary cap dropping for the first time, it's now almost impossible.
Luongo's choices are limited. He could try to force a trade by refusing to report to the Canucks, but he would also be suspended, dashing his hopes of playing for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics in February. Retirement is also out of the question.
His only option is to report to the Canucks, which Brisson confirmed.
Changing agents will do little to improve Luongo's hope for a trade. Only a strong performance in 2013-14 may be able to get him out of town.
WILL FRANSON’S PRICE TAG FIT IN WITH MAPLE LEAFS?
The Toronto Maple Leafs may soon face the prospect of having to trade a defenseman. TSN's Darren Dreger reported Friday trade speculation could heat up around restricted free agent Cody Franson.
Franson played well last season under coach Randy Carlyle, leading all Leafs defensemen in scoring with 29 points. He was also tied for second in team playoff scoring with six points.
The 25-year-old blueliner is coming off a one-year, $1.2-million contract. It's unknown what his asking price is, but it could be as high as $3 million per season.
That would create a problem for the Leafs, who currently have around $6.1 million in cap space with Nazem Kadri and Matt Fraser still to re-sign.
If Franson hits the trade block, Dreger speculated the Leafs could seek a draft pick or prospect in return. That could be an enticing price for teams in need of blueline depth, such as the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes or New York Islanders.
The Detroit Red Wings could use a top-four, right-handed blueliner, but they reportedly haven't contacted the Leafs about Franson.
TOOTOO BACK TO NASHVILLE?
Speaking of the Red Wings, they're trying to ship Jordin Tootoo back to the Nashville Predators.
Tootoo, 30, began his NHL career with the Predators, where he played for eight seasons until signing with the Wings last summer as an unrestricted free agent.
Wings management intends to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, which would give them two extra forwards and push them over the salary cap. They need to move a forward or two to address both issues before the start of the season.
The Predators have approximately $2 million in cap space, but also have a logjam up front, meaning one would have to move to make room for Tootoo.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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