April 13, 2012; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings in game two of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at Rogers Arena. The Los Angeles Kings won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 Stories of 2012 - #10 Where's Luongo Going

Heralded as one of the league’s top netminders, it is perhaps unfair the way people have treated Roberto Luongo.  Having led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, he was still unable to meet lofty expectations in Vancouver.  That, combined with the talent and potential of backup Cory Schneider pushing him for playing time, led to widespread speculation that Luongo was on the way out.

However, as the summer came and went, and the lockout took over, Luongo is still a member of the Vancouver Canucks, despite Schneider signing a 3 year, $12M contract extension in the off-season.   With 10 years and almost $50M remaining on his contract, and armed with a no-trade clause, Luongo is nearly untradeable.  Any suitors (Toronto) would have to convince him to waive the NTC, while any destination he might want to pursue (Florida) cannot afford him.

It is a sticky situation, but Vancouver will most likely not be able to afford to carry over $9M in goaltending salary, despite the apparent willingness (at least publicly) from the two goalies to continue to work together and share the Canucks net.

Once the lockout finally ends, the trade rumours and speculation will heat up almost immediately.  I said earlier that the criticism of Luongo was perhaps unfair, considering that each of the last three seasons the Canucks were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.  Wherever he ends up (and most pundits believe it will eventually be the Maple Leafs) he will be a driving force to making that team better.  He is still a top-5 goalie in the league and the change of venue will only help him.

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