Much of the offseason banter surrounding the Vancouver Canucks has dealt with the plight of their goaltender, Roberto Luongo. The veteran has been with the club since 2006-07 and taken them to great heights - including within a win of the Stanley Cup - but it appears a changing of the guard is now at hand.
26-year-old Cory Schneider appears to have taken the starting gig away from Luongo, a move that was essentially cemented during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs when head coach Alain Vigneault put Schneider in goal midway through the series and didn't look back.
Over at Bovada's online sportsbook, a series of innovative futures bets have been made with regards to Luongo's future in Vancouver - and wherever he might end up should the team move him.
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Will Roberto Luongo be traded before Game 1 of the 2012-13 Regular Season?
Yes -150 (2/3) No +110 (11/10)
The real question regarding Luongo's future is the number of suitors interested in him. He comes highly regarded - he's a great regular-season goalie that's twice been nominated for the Vezina - but is 33 years old and armed with a very long contract that takes him into his 40s. Still, there is the belief that any non-playoff team that acquires Luongo will greatly increase its chances of making the postseason, and that's quite the alluring proposition.
So, which of the teams are available? Many figure the Toronto Maple Leafs will kick the tires - their last few seasons have been marred with shaky goaltending and, given they were essentially a playoff team until February of last season, the speculation is Luongo could be the guy to put them over the top.
Tampa Bay has been another team linked to Luongo, most notably because his wife is from Florida. Luongo also spent the early parts of his career playing for the Panthers, so he's familiar with the area and playing in the Southeast Division. The real question is if Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is willing to take on a big contract of a 33-year-old goalie, rather than try to find a young guy and groom him, essentially solving Tampa's goalie issue for the long-term.
There are likely other suitors that would want Luongo in the fold. The Columbus Blue Jackets would likely be there, though it stands to reason Luongo might not share a similar interest. Columbus is a franchise dogged with a history of losing and front-office dysfunction, and Luongo does hold a no-trade clause. Ergo, he can veto a deal to any city he's not interested playing for, and Columbus could very well be one of those cities.
In the end, it seems as though the Canucks could just as easily sit on Luongo and keep him in the fold for another year, rather than deal him. But with that said, they know he's a proud competitor and wants to be a No. 1 somewhere, so retaining Luongo could be a major distraction throughout the season.
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