Canucks GM Gillis not feeling added pressure to trade Luongo Staff

1/16/2013 9:55:14 PM

Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is not about to push the panic button, despite mounting injuries on his club's second line.

Already without centre Ryan Kesler - who is still recovering from off-season shoulder and wrist surgeries - the Canucks were dealt another blow this week when it was announced that forward David Booth would miss four-to-six weeks with a groin injury.

However, with two-thirds of his second line now in the sick bay, Gillis isn't feeling any added pressure to trade goaltender Roberto Luongo.

"We were anticipating injuries coming out of a really short camp and the first couple weeks of the season so from our end it hasn't changed anything," Gillis told TSN's That's Hockey on Wednesday.

"I think any general manager in this league would be reluctant to part with a player of this quality and a person of this quality."

Despite Luongo likely being the odd-man out in the Canucks crease with the team's increasing reliance on his one-time back-up Cory Schneider, Gillis is not looking past what Luongo has achieved in his six seasons in Vancouver.

"When you look back at Roberto's record and Vezina Trophy nominations, Jennings Trophy [win], Hart Trophy nominations, the pedigree is there."

As he has maintained all along, Gillis is also prepared to enter the season with both netminders in the fold, it would just mean more competition for playing time.

"They're going to be used like they have been the past year: Whoever's gonna give us the best opportunity to win is gonna be in net and particularly in a shortened season there's gonna be a lot of hockey played in a short period of time," he told TSN. "We have the utmost confidence in both our goalies. We have a chance to win every game we play with either one of those guys in net."

That said, Gillis admitted that there is still a market for Luongo's services. He revealed that he had spoken to a team as recently as Wednesday morning about a possible trade and that he has "been in contact with four-to-five teams off-and-on over the past week" about the 33-year-old keeper.

"I only see that continuing to get greater," he said. "Lots of things are gonna happen here early on and, like I said, parting with an All-Star player - particularly a goalie - is not something you do every day and we're gonna try and do the best for our organization and for Roberto."

As far as the holes on the second line, Gillis intends to support his top trio of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows with competition from within the organization.

Mason Raymond should remain in a second-line capacity having shown in the past that he can put up points if given the opportunity. The 27-year-old notched a career-high 25 goals and 53 points in 2009-10 with the Canucks, but has been hampered by injuries over the last two seasons.

He appeared in only 55 games in 2011-12.

Still, Gillis said Raymond has looked good early on in training camp, as has 21-year-old Zack Kassian, whom the Canucks acquired last season from Buffalo in a deal that sent Cody Hodgson to the Sabres.

As far as centre goes on the second line, the job appears to be up for grabs between veteran Andrew Ebbett and 2009 first-rounder Jordan Schroeder.

So, even if the season begins with Luongo in a Canucks uniform, Gillis is intrigued by the possibilities percolating in training camp.

"We're comfortable with what we have," he said. "It gives some younger players an opportunity to step up and shine."