Canucks on verge of trading Roberto Luongo to …

Arguably the biggest offseason question in the National Hockey League was what the were going to do with former No. 1 goaltender . After his latest playoff meltdown last season and with Vancouver handing the keys to former backup Cory Schneider, Luongo is simply too expensive to keep even though he’s not far removed from being considered one of the league’s top goalies.

Well, reportedly Luongo’s time as a Canuck is about up. The Vancouver Sun is reporting that General Manager Mike Gillis said that there is a potential deal for Luongo in place. With what team? That’s still not clear.

“We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it’s not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait. (But) we’ve been offered packages that don’t fit what our plan is, what we need,” Gillis said.

The Panthers and Maple Leafs have long been rumored as Luongo destinations. But he also has a no-trade clause in his contract. He would presumably OK it for those two destinations – Luongo formerly played for the Panthers. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun tweeted on Monday that he can confirm the deal Gillis is speaking of is not with the Maple Leafs.

Gillis also said that the Canucks have received a number of offers that have not met the team’s threshold for a return.

“Roberto has a no-trade, so in discussions prior to the lockout, he had a say in where he was prepared to go,” Gillis said. “Once the lockout starts, you’re not permitted to even talk about player transactions, subject to huge fines and loss of draft picks. Then the lockout ends and suddenly, you’re trying to make a decision in four or five days about a premier player in this League, and it’s tough to make a trade of this magnitude in eight months, let alone four days. So we have him here, and we’re happy having him here.”

A lot of stuff has already happened. Schneider bombed in the season opener, allowing five goals on 14 shots before being relieved by Luongo, who then started the team’s second game and looked strong in suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the Oilers. Luongo finished with 30 saves, but his difficulty in the shootout reared its ugly head once again. The 33-year-old was unable to make a key stop as both Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky scored to give Edmonton a win in its opener of the lockout-shortened season. Luongo’s career shootout record now stands at 29 wins and 34 losses.

After that game, coach Alain Vigneault refused to name a starter for the game at home against Calgary on Wednesday. He is expected to do that later Tuesday.

Other teams mentioned as interested in Luongo as the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks. But the latter two are snug up against the salary cap.

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