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Just rumors...for now: proposition of South Florida return by Luongo gains momentum

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Presswire

As we earlier linked in FanShot form on Sunday, two recent articles have expressed a growing(?) pattern regarding the potential outcome of Roberto Luongo's situation with Vancouver: the Panthers could well be the 33 year-old netminder's only preferred destination, if reports are accurate.

No less a respected media authority than ESPN's Pierre LeBrun stated, in language that was anything but guarded, "[Florida] decided this weekend to see this Luongo thing through. They're going to focus on it seriously."

Okay, quite the declaration, and Pierre is generally not seen as a rumor-monger; maybe there's something to it, if one disregards Jose Theodore's remaining season under contract - with a no-trade clause -while blowing up any notion of Jacob Markstrom's permanent ascendancy to NHL ice before 2013-14 (soon-to-be UFA Scott Clemmensen has already been offered a new deal, which further muddies the picture). Tis the Silly Season, and all.

A few hours ago TFP's Dave Pagnotta chimed in with his own (understandably) anonymous league source, who revealed the Canucks are "demanding a package that includes [A-list prospect] center Nick Bjugstad", though the source claims Tallon, Inc. is not prepared to bend quite that far. Um, thankfully.

Of course LeafNation remains abuzz about the possibility of acquiring Bobby Lou, but Toronto GM Brian Burke has been adamant in the past about his loathing of long-term contracts (sort of like this one here) being unfair to both sides. He is, however, under enormous pressure to build a winner - and quickly - in Toronto but does Luongo really desire trading his current fishbowl for an even larger one?

Back to Sunrise: so what is it about Theodore or Markstrom that has Florida - presumably - scrambling for a starter? Injury? Or is the prospect of a still-elite level goaltender displaying genuine interest in returning "home", by choice, just that hard to resist?

The Cats have already been clear on their intentions with regard to Marky: he'll spend next year in San Antonio, hopefully without a third knee issue in as many seasons. No idea whether the offer made to Clemmer was a genuine good-faith effort, but lets assume it was, and there's no reason to believe otherwise: he's your backup in 2012-13. And Jose? Sure he can be dealt - with his blessing - but only 12 months from now he'll be a UFA once again, and his salary/cap hit are hardly iron-clad roadblocks to movement ($1.5M in both cases per CapGeek).

Stay tuned for a wild week.