The Vancouver Canucks have traded goalie Roberto Luongo back to the Florida Panthers. Luongo rejoins the Panthers after having been traded to Vancouver eight seasons ago. The Canucks receive prospect goalie Jacob Markstrom and centre Shawn Matthias in return.
Luongo had requested a trade last off-season before Cory Schneider was dealt to the New Jersey Devils. Rumours began that Luongo might want out after Eddie Lack was given the start in the Canucks' Heritage Classic game with the Ottawa Senators.
"I was not expecting it," Luongo told reporters shortly after the trade. "Go figure, right? I'm happy for myself and my family and a little bit sad to be leaving Vancouver."
Luongo spent five seasons with the Panthers from 2000-01 to 2005-06 before playing the past eight years with the Canucks. In 42 games this season, Luongo has a .917 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average.
"Roberto is one of the game's elite goaltenders and we are happy to welcome him back to South Florida," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "With this acquisition, we have solidified our goaltending depth with a top-tiered netminder for the next several seasons."
He now joins Tim Thomas, the goaltender he faced in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final when they lost to the Boston Bruins, and a young Panthers team.
Asked on TSN Radio 1050 about being teammates with Thomas, Luongo laughed and said: "I don't know, we'll see how it goes when I get there."
Luongo said he has no hard feelings towards the Canucks looking back over his eight seasons in Vancouver.
"All in all it was a great run. There was a lot of stuff that happened in between but I have nothing but good things to say about the fans that were really supportive especially towards the end. This organization brought my game to another level. It's all positive stuff."
Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis spoke to the media following the trade and was asked if the Canucks planned any more moves before Wednesday's trade deadline.
"I don't know if we're done yet or not," Gillis said. "We're trying to get younger, get more depth and more balance."
Matthias has nine goals and 16 points in 59 games for the Panthers this season. Markstrom has spent the majority of the year with the Panthers AHL affiliate in San Antonio where he was recently named AHL goalie of the month.
The Canucks are also sending minor leaguer Steven Anthony to Florida and will retain 15 per cent of Luongo's salary.