Murph’s Musings: Luongo Good Fit For Panthers And Trade Deadline Afterthoughts

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Mar 9, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) watches a goal by right wing Jarome Iginla (not pictured )against Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) in the third period at BB&T Center. The Bruins won 5-2. Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Some trade deadline afterthoughts while watching the Bruins-Panthers game Sunday night:

–Seeing Roberto Luongo as a Panther again really has me in a time warp and feeling a bit old. So much has happened in my own life since he last donned what was a different Panthers jersey in 2006. But all that maybe some day gets told in a tell-all book that nobody will care about. For now, let’s think about what’s happened for Luongo since then and what may happen in the remaining six seasons on his contract that will pay him $4.5 million per season.

When Luongo arrived in Vancouver via a trade in the 2006 offseason, he had never played in the playoffs. Now he returns to Florida having played in 64 playoff games and having taken a team to within one game of hoisting the Stanley Cup falling just shy to the Bruins in 2011. He also returned with 252 more wins. Oh and let’s not forget he’s now on Twitter too!

But the point here is this current Panthers squad is getting a veteran goalie with plenty of experience in both the regular season and the playoffs. More importantly they’re getting a relieved and motivated Luongo who has endured more criticism and been in the eye of more media storms than the 50-plus shots per game he seemed to face in his first stint with the Panthers. Yes just as he was then, Luongo is playing behind a young and somewhat unpolished squad. But there are more talented prospects both on the current Panthers roster and in the system than back in 2006. Luongo’s experience, motivation and mature but laid back personality can only help a team waiting for their talent to blossom and put a consistent winning product on the ice in Sunrise.

Yes for better or worse they’re stuck with his contract and there is no guarantee the 34-year-old doesn’t retire before the end of the contract. And while some are saying they gave up nothing for Luongo sending highly touted goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias to Vancouver, two Florida sources told Murph’s Musings that they didn’t feel that way at all and that ownership did indeed play a role in this move as they hoped to create some much-needed buzz around the team. They also hope Luongo’s presence will attract some better free agents in July as they try to build a playoff team.

The take here on the deal is that it helps the Panthers in the present but also the Canucks in the future. Luongo needed to be dealt as the Canucks prepare to blow up their roster and retool. They got two solid young players and while Mike Gillis indeed should’ve dealt Luongo last year and not Schneider he got the best he could get at this point and may have helped whoever likely replaces him as the Canucks GM in the summer.

–Speaking of ownership meddling in player personnel moves and the trade deadline, there is a strong belief amongst those who work in NHL management and scouting that the Canucks ownership vetoed two possible trades for the Canucks that would’ve accelerated their rebuild even more. The Canucks reportedly were very close to dealing Ryan Kesler to the Penguins for a package that would’ve sent forward Brandon Sutter, a top defensive prospect believed top be Derrick Pouliot and a draft pick but because ownership still believes they have a playoff team, they forced Gillis to take Kesler off the market at the last minute.

Also, on Thursday Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reported the Bruins had a deal in place with Vancouver that would’ve seen the Canucks send defenseman Alexander Edler to Boston in exchange for a package that likely included AHLers Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khokhlachev and defenseman Matt Bartkowski. But that reportedly was also pulled off the table as well as a result of the Kesler trade not happening.

It’s unfortunate when ownership doesn’t let a GM do his job and usually doesn’t lead to success for an organization. But this likely means that Gillis’ bosses have lost faith in him not just that they’re blind and feel they have a playoff caliber team. Still not a good sign though for whomever replaces Gillis.

–Edler would’ve likely been a better acquisition for the Bruins who would get not only a talented defenseman to eat minutes but a 27-year-old defenseman with term ($5 million per season through 2018-19). Edler is having a terrible season but there’s no denying his talent and while Bruins fans may not want to acknowledge it, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg aren’t getting any younger, with the latter coming off surgery for a torn ACL and MCL. Getting Andrej Meszaros was an underrated move and will help more than many think but Edler would’ve been great for the present and the future.

–Say what you want about interim Flames GM Brian Burke but as Glen Healey pointed out on Hockey Night In Canada ‘Hot Stove’ Saturday, Burke was bang on when he suggested and helped successfully implement into the new CBA a rule that allows teams to eat some of the salary of the players they’re trading. That happened in 11 trades before Tuesday’s deadline and clearly opened up the trade market. A perfect example of this new rule helping was the Habs being able to acquire Thomas Vanek since the Islanders ate some of Vanek’s salary. They’re also on the hook for only 25 percent of goalie Devan Dubnyk whom they acquired from Nashville. That’s because Nashville and Edmonton – the team that earlier this season dealt Dubnyk to the Predators – combined to eat the remaining 75 percent.

–Heading into the deadline it was suggested here that the Devils try to pry away former Devil and unrestricted free agent to be Brian Gionta from Montreal and it was confirmed to Murph’s Musings on Sunday that did indeed happen. According to one source close to the negotiations, the Devils offered a prospect and a second round pick but were told the Habs captain wasn’t available as the deadline grew closer even though he was last month before the Canadiens began to play better heading into the Olympic break.

–Good thing for the Stars, the Panthers realized that Luongo and Tim Thomas wouldn’t be able to coexist, eh? Dallas starter Kari Lehtonen suffered a scary head injury Saturday night and is now day-to-day meaning the Stars will now have the former Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner between the pipes for at least the next few games.

–Really good piece by Pat Caputo of the Morning Sun in Oakland County, Michigan urging hockey fans not to let the real world and the crisis in Ukraine bring us back to the way Americans and Canadians viewed Russian hockey players during the Cold War. Stick tap to Kuklaskorner.com for the find.

–Finally, I had the pleasure of writing this inspirational story on a special friendship between Rangers fan Liam Traynor who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto and how Rangers fans worked together to reunite the two after Del Zotto was traded to Nashville January 22.

James Murphy is a freelance reporter who also writes for NHL.com. He covered the Boston Bruins/NHL for last 11 seasons writing for ESPNBoston.com, ESPN.com, NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also currently hosts “Murphy’s Hockey Law” (Saturdays 9-11 AM ET on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio and 4-6 PM ET on Websportsmedia.com. He is also a regular guest TSN 690 in Montreal and Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio.