Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers

Panthers Made Statement With Luongo Deal

Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 8:33 PM / Features
By Alain Poupart  - Correspondent
Share with your Friends

Panthers Made Statement With Luongo Deal
For Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, acquiring goalie Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL Trade Deadline was about making a statement.

SUNRISE, Fla. -- For the Florida Panthers, bringing goaltender Roberto Luongo back to South Florida was about making a statement.

That was the message from general manager Dale Tallon, who said he consummated the four-player trade with the Vancouver Canucks after getting the go-ahead from owner Vinnie Viola, partner Doug Cifu, and new president/CEO Rory Babich, who took over on Monday.

"It is huge," Tallon said in a conference call Tuesday night. "He's a big name down here and it sets the tone for our franchise. Vinnie and Doug and Rory and I want to win the Stanley Cup, and talk is cheap, so we're acting and we're following up on what we said we would do. We're just looking to get better every day to achieve our goal of winning the Stanley Cup."

As other examples, Tallon pointed to the recent trade for former Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick Brandon Pirri and the re-signing of veteran forward Brad Boyes to a two-year contract. But those moves paled in comparison to the trade that brought Luongo for a second stint with the Panthers.

"He's still one of the elite goaltenders in the League," Tallon said. "He was on the Canadian Olympic team. He won a gold medal. His numbers are phenomenal. He went to a Stanley Cup Finals, took his team to the Finals, got beat in Game 7. He's played very well the last couple of years. He's just a solid goaltender."

It also doesn't hurt that Luongo, who earned his first All-Star Game invitation during his six-year stay with the Panthers from 2001-06, is popular in South Florida.

Tallon had discussions with the Canucks about a trade involving Luongo last year, but the sides couldn't come to an agreement. When the deal was finally made, one of the players Tallon sent to Vancouver was Jacob Markstrom, who had long been seen as the Panthers' goaltender of the future.

Markstrom appeared in at least one game for the Panthers in each of the past four seasons but was marred by inconsistency. He has an NHL record of 11-25-5 with a 3.20 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.

Tallon gave Markstrom a vote of confidence on his way out.

"We're getting a great goaltender, a proven commodity," Tallon said. "Jacob has got great upside, but we needed to make a statement. Luongo's numbers are terrific. He's already been in this community and is a very popular figure in the South Florida area. I just like what he brings to the table, giving us stability, and his experience and a chance for us to win.

"We're getting a great goaltender, a proven commodity. You have to pay the price to get guys like this. You don't get Roberto Luongo for nothing. You have to pay the price, and obviously we paid a big price. Jacob is a great young goaltender with a lot of potential, but that's what you have to pay sometimes to get value."

Goaltender Roberto Luongo makes a save during his time with the Panthers (Getty Images)

Also headed to Vancouver is forward Shawn Matthias, who already was in a way connected with Luongo. Matthias was acquired by the Panthers in a February 2007 trade with the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi, who was the key player the Panthers acquired eight months earlier when they had sent Luongo to Vancouver.

A fast-skating forward with size, Matthias had his moments with the Panthers but never could play himself into a prominent role. As an example of his inconsistency, Matthias had 11 goals in 16 games in March 2013, but three goals in the other 32 games last season. This season, he had six goals in the first 57 games before scoring three times in Florida's first two games this March.

"I think it's time for a change," Tallon said of Matthias, who had been Florida's longest-tenured player (since 2007-08). "He's been here for a long time. He's had some great games and not-so-great games. Inconsistency has been the issue. I think he probably is welcoming a change. He's kind of intimated that this year a few times; his agent has. He's got a lot of upside. He's a good guy, he works hard, can skate, has a big shot, but needs to develop some consistency in his game. As I said, we're giving up two good young assets to get a highly talented goaltender."

With Luongo's arrival, the Panthers suddenly found themselves with not one but two goaltenders with lofty credentials. The other is veteran Tim Thomas, who started Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.

After a one-year hiatus, Thomas joined the Panthers in September after going to training camp on a professional tryout and recently said he was receptive to the idea of returning for a second season in Florida. But with Luongo and his long-term contract, it's difficult to envision the Panthers bringing back Thomas for 2014-15.

Thomas has a no-trade clause and Tallon said he would sit down with the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Wednesday before the NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET) and do his best to accommodate the goalie's wishes.

But Tuesday, it was all about Luongo and his return.

"We're excited about it," Tallon said. "I think it's great for our franchise."

Author: Alain Poupart | Correspondent




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43


N. Bjugstad 61 21 15 -9 36
J. Huberdeau 58 9 24 4 33
A. Ekblad 61 9 23 6 32
J. Jokinen 60 6 25 -3 31
B. Boyes 59 10 18 6 28
J. Hayes 52 17 10 -5 27
A. Barkov 50 9 12 -4 21
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
B. Campbell 61 3 17 1 20
D. Bolland 37 3 13 2 16
R. Luongo 22 16 11 .921 2.38
A. Montoya 4 6 2 .893 2.98 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.