Canucks sign Luongo for 4 years

Goaltender Roberto Luongo has agreed to a four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks worth $27 million US.

A week after being one of the National Hockey League's most wanted men, Roberto Luongois a rich Vancouver Canuck.

The 27-year-old goaltender agreed to a four-year contract worth $27 million US on Thursday.

"It's up to me to deliver," said Luongo.

"The Canucks have had a great team over the last few years. Unfortunately they had a few injuries last season and didn't make it, but they're committed to winning. And that's really important for an organization. That's something that I really respect.

"There's no doubt in my mind that once I get [to Vancouver], we're going to make a run for the Stanley Cup and that's why I'm coming there."

Luongo, set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, willearn $6 million in 2006-07. His salary increases over the remaining three years, from $6.5 million to $7 millionand then$7.5 million.

Thedeal also includes a no-trade clause for the final three years.

"Roberto has proven himself to be an elite goaltender," said Canucks general manager David Nonis. "His international experience, Vezina Trophy nomination and ability to consistently play at the highest level are tremendous assets that we believe will make the Vancouver Canucks competitive each and every night."

Luongo becomes the highest-paid Canuck, surpassing captain Markus Naslund's $6-million salary.

"As soon as my agent made contact with them, it was smooth sailing right away," said Luongo. "The offer we signed today was the same we offered the Florida Panthers [before being traded]."

Nonis acquired Luongo on the eve of last Saturday'sNHL Entry Draftfrom the Florida Panthers, along withdefenceman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft.

The Panthers had been unable to re-sign Luongo, but offeredhim a four-year, $25-million contract last Friday. However, both sides remained more than$2 million apart, which precipitated thetrade to Vancouver.

Arbitration triggered distrust

"I think it all started last summer with the arbitration," said Luongo, who was livid when the Panthers took him to salary arbitration last August. "There was mistrust there. And during the season they promised me some things that they never came through on.

"That's why I had trouble trusting them and that's why I wanted to sign a one-year deal just so when I would sign the extension with the Panthers at the end of the next season, I would have a no-trade [clause] and my future would be safe there."

Going to Florida werewinger Todd Bertuzzi, defenceman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld.

A Montreal native, Luongo is considered among the elite NHL goaltenders, despite the fact he has yet to play a playoff game after stints with the New York Islanders and Florida.

He posted a solid 35-30-9 record last season with a 2.97 goals-against-average for the Panthers, who finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 37-34-11.

The six-foot-three netminder has compiled a 115-168-41 mark with a 2.72 GAA in 341 career NHL games, adding a .914 save percentage and four shutouts.

He waspart of Canada's Olympic team at the Torino Winter Games, and earnedback-to-back gold medals with Team Canada at the world championships in 2003 and 2004.

With files from Canadian Press