Luongo's return caps off busy day for Florida Panthers

Rich Lam

Panthers make a trio of deals, including one whopper, in the lead up to this year's trade deadline.

The Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks finally completed the long-rumored trade of sometimes disgruntled former Cats' netminder Roberto Luongo.

Florida shipped their supposed goaltender of the future Jacob Markstrom and center Shawn Matthias to the Pacific Northwest to bring back Luongo, who spent five seasons with the club after being acquired from the New York Islanders in 2000. The Cats also get 22-year-old minor league forward Steven Anthony and the Canucks will kindly retain 15 percent of Luongo's salary.

In a strange twist of fate, the trade brings together the two goalies who faced each other in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Luongo and Tim Thomas, who didn't seem too fond of each other, will share the cage for the rest of the season. One would think the move has to reduce the chance of Thomas returning next season.

Bringing back Louie, the winningest netminder in franchise history, is a splashy move from GM Dale Tallon and the club's new owners, and one that shores up the club's goaltending next season, which should be a pivotal one for the franchise, and for at least a few more years going forward. Luongo signed a massive 12-year deal with the Canucks back in 2009.

The Panthers also traded Mike Weaver to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick in the 2015 Entry Draft. Weaver was solid citizen and played hard during his three-plus season stint in Florida. The pending UFA defender will be missed, but his departure opens up space on a Panther blue line which was becoming a bit crowded.

And finally, Florida re-upped leading goal-scorer Brad Boyes to a two-year contract worth $5.25M. Boyes earned the new deal after coming to camp on a PTO and signing on for one low-priced season. Well done, sir!

A big, big day today as the club gets an early start on laying the groundwork for next season. Let's see if tomorrow has anymore surprises in store.

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