Jan 6, 2013 / 6:27 pm
The future of goaltender Roberto Luongo is one of a number of pressing issues facing the Vancouver Canucks now that the NHL and the players' association have to come to a tentative agreement to end the lockout.
And so long as the new collective bargain agreement is approved by both the owners and the union's membership, the veteran netminder will be expected at training camp.
"It's become a priority for a number of other teams," said general manager Mike Gillis on a conference call Sunday, suggesting there is strong interest in the goaltender. "So it's become a priority for us."
Luongo was displaced as the starter in last spring's Stanley Cup playoffs by Cory Schneider. After the Canucks were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Luongo said he would agree to waive his no-trade clause if the team asks him to.
However, Gillis was unable to swing a deal before the lockout began. In the meantime, the Canucks signed Schneider to a new three-year, $12-million contract that begins this shortened season.
Luongo openly wondering about his future Sunday, tweeting: "So (what) do we do now?"
Pending a trade, Luongo ($5.3 million) and Schneider ($4 million) pose a $9.3 million salary cap hit to the Canucks this season. While the total is tenable, the two contracts will become more difficult to manage in the 2013-14 season, when a reduced salary cap takes effect.
Luongo's presence could also prove to be a distraction as the Canucks try to regain the form that helped them come within a game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
So there is more urgency to move Luongo, who has a 12-year, $64-million contract that runs until 2022. Presuming he is moved in the near future, the Canucks will also have to acquire a goaltender to back up Schneider, either as part of the Luongo deal or through a free-agent signing. Eddie Lack, Vancouver's top goaltending prospect, is expected to spend the entire season in the minors with the Chicago Wolves.
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