In what could possibly end up being the most shocking trade of the always manic NHL trade deadline this season, TSN is reporting that the Florida Panthers have acquired veteran G Roberto Luongo in exchange for G prospect Jacob Markstrom and F Shawn Matthias.
Still beloved by the Florida faithful, Luongo played for the Panthers from 1999-2006 and still holds most of the franchise’s all-time goalie records, including most wins (108), most shutouts (26), most shutouts in a season (7), most wins in a season (35) and most games played in net (317).
Luongo, 34, is currently playing through a contract that runs until the end of the 2021-222 season with an annual cap hit of $5.33 million. While these numbers may initially raise some eyebrows, TSN has reported that the Canucks are expected to retain 15% of the salary.
“Roberto is one of the game’s elite goaltenders and we are happy to welcome him back to South Florida,” Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said in the team’s official press release. “With this acquisition, we have solidified our goaltending depth with a top-tiered netminder for the next several seasons. Roberto is a three-time Vezina finalist, who has experienced tremendous success throughout his 13-year playing career, which includes six post-season appearances, including the Stanley Cup finals, two Olympic Gold Medals and three All-Star selections.”
“We look forward to his contributions to our club on the ice as well as his continued philanthropic efforts in the South Florida community.”
Markstrom, 24, was drafted in the second-round (31st overall) of the 2008 Draft, but has still yet to find a solid foot hole in the NHL. In the 43 NHL games since making his debut during the 2010-11 season, Markstrom has posted a 11-25-5 record with .898 save percentage and 3.21 goals-against average.
In 29 AHL games this season, Markstrom has posted a .918 save percentage with two shutouts and was named the AHL’s top goaltender for the month of February.
Matthias, 26, was the longest tenured Panther prior to today having been with the club since the 2007-08 season. An enigmatic player at this point in his career, Matthias has earned 97 points (48-49-97) in 312 career NHL games while struggling to find consistency.
However, in getting Matthias the Cancucks acquire an exceptional grinder who has been known to show flashed of brilliance at times – especially during the month of March.
In addition to Luongo, the Panthers will also be receiving 22 year-old F Steven Anthony. Anthony, a seventh-round pick in 2009, is currently playing for the St. Charles Chill of the CHL where he has tallied 14 points (4-10-14) through 33 games played so far this season.
A former teammate of current Panther Jonathan Huberdeau while playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, Anthony projects to be a long-term project for the Cats.
Looking ahead, this trade bodes well for the Panthers as they now have found the reliability in net that has alluded them since the departure of Tomas Vokoun.
With the trade deadline still a day away, I wouldn’t be surprised if Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon had another trick or two up his sleeve.
We will continue to update you on this story as it progresses.
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