The NHL trade deadline may be tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from executing trades today.
Today, it seemed like goalies were the focus of the moves, with Viktor Fasth going to Edmonton, Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota (and not Martin Brodeur), and now the biggest trade of the day, the Florida Panthers sending Jacob Markstrom to Vancouver, in exchange for Roberto Luongo.
The trade was Luongo and Steven Anthony to Florida, in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.
It seemed that Luongo’s days in Vancouver were numbered, after Eddie Lack was given the nod to play the Heritage Classic on Sunday. This means the survivor of the Canucks long standing goalie battle is Eddie Lack, after Luongo’s trade today, and Cory Schneider’s trade to New Jersey on draft day last summer. Go figure.
This trade was obvious for the Canucks, with their season gradually falling apart from injury and controversy, and with Luongo’s albatross contract. The trade wasn’t obvious at all from the perspective of the Panthers.
The Panthers now pick up most of the contract, with the Canucks eating 15% of the money, and have a cap hit of just over $4.5M from now until the 2021-22 season. The Panthers also have a starting goalie in Tim Thomas, and had a bona-fide prospect in Markstrom, until the trade. It seemed to me, that the Panthers were set in goal for a while, despite Markstrom’s recent struggles. Now, they have a heavy contractual burden of a 35-year-old netminder, whose best years are arguably behind him.
The Canucks now have Markstrom to play behind Eddie Lack, who has been good this year. But with that trade happening, and another potentially around the corner involving Ryan Kesler, it seems clear that the Canucks are blowing up, and starting over. They have been fading out of contention since their Cup Finals run in 2011, and gradually weakening as the days went on. Now, it seems like they are poised to bottom out, and start rebuilding.
I have a feeling that neither team is a real winner here. The Canucks finally unloaded the contract, but seem to have jumped the cliff into rebuilding. The Panthers picked up said contract, and got significantly older in net. The real winners may actually be Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, both of which have starting jobs. Luongo can now breathe a sigh of relief from the pressure in Vancouver, and soak in the sun of care-free Miami. Lack now has a starting job in the NHL.
Tune in tomorrow for more trade deadline coverage.