Talks regarding a Roberto Luongo trade have been quiet lately:
“I heard a rumor that the Panthers are making a push to get Roberto Luongo. Have you heard anything about this? Would this move affect their ability to put a team together that can compete for cheap? — Conor Murphy
The Panthers’ interest in Luongo is more than a rumor, as it has been widely reported for months—although, lately, as with so many other potential moves around the league, like Doan’s free agency and the possibility of a Bobby Ryan trade, it has been all quiet lately.
As for the question of making Luongo part of an affordable contender, it’s certainly possible. The Panthers currently have 22 players under contract for 2012-13, at a salary cap charge of $53.74 million. That is the seventh-lowest total cap outlay in the league, ahead of only the Blues, Stars, Senators, Jets, Islanders and Coyotes.
Luongo’s annual cap hit is $5,333,333—he makes a salary of $6.714 million through 2017-18, then $3.382 million for 2018-19, $1.618 million for 2019-20 and $1 million for each of the last two years of his deal. From a pure cap standpoint, adding Luongo would bring the Panthers to just over $59 million, which ranks in the middle of the league—16th overall.
But if the Panthers do trade for Luongo, there will be players going the other way. Whether any would come off the active roster remains to be seen, of course, but adding Luongo would give Florida three goaltenders, as Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore are already there.
Removing $1.2 million for Clemmensen or $1.5 million for Theodore would bring the Panthers’ cap charges down one or two spots in the rankings, so even with Luongo, Florida would be able to contend within the bounds of financial reason. The key is that the Panthers’ only player with an annual cap hit of more than $5 million is Lady Byng Trophy winner Brian Campbell, at $7,142,875.