Canucks trade Bertuzzi to Florida
Luongo heads to Vancouver
The Vancouver Canucks completed a five-player mega-deal Friday that sends forward Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers for goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks also receive defenceman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick in Saturday's NHL draft and send defenceman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld to Florida.
"We talked about change at the end of the season, and if you're going to make some changes, small ones aren't necessarily the ones you need to change the look of your team," said Canucks' senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis.
"We picked up a top goaltender and a very good young defenceman, but we gave up a lot too."
Bertuzzi, one of the most dominant power forwards in the NHL, continues to be marred by a highly publicized incident.
Bertuzzi punched then Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore from behind and pushed him down to the ice at GM Place on March 8, 2004.
The 25-year-old rookie tumbled face-first and lay motionless for several minutes in a pool of blood before being carried off on a stretcher. He was hospitalized with three broken vertebrae in his neck and suffered a concussion.
The NHL suspended Bertuzzi indefinitely and did not reinstate him until Aug. 8, 2005 — exactly 17 months later.
He missed 13 regular-season games and the entire 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, losing roughly $502,000 US in salary.
Bertuzzi was charged with assault and pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court, where the judge sentenced him to probation and community service.
Hecame back from his suspension following the 2005 lockout, but didn't post the numbers many expected, scoring 71 points in 82 games.
Bertuzzi, who received heavy criticism for accepting an invitation to play for Canada at the Olympics, struggled at the Torino Games, which led to further disapproval from fans.
"With the circumstances a new challenge was maybe inevitable and certainly necessary and is quite exciting," said Bertuzzi's agent Pat Morris.
Morris also added thatBertuzzi had "extremely positive memories of his time in Vancouver" but welcomed the trade.
Luongo one of league's best
Luongo, arestricted free agent,is considered one of the best goaltenders in the league, but couldn't lead a struggling Florida team to the playoffs.
The talented but underachieving 27-year-old netminder has played six seasons for the New York Islanders and Panthers, but has yet to take part in the post-season.
Despite the Panthers' losing record, Luongo posted a solid 35-30-9 record last season with a 2.97 goals-against-average.
He also had a .914 save percentage with four shutouts and was also part of Canada's Olympic team at the Torino Winter Games.
"We believe that in Roberto we are getting a player who has represented his country at the highest level, has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy and has proven that he is among the elite goaltenders in the world," said Nonis.
In Krajicek, the Canucks get a former first-round pick who scored only two goals and 16 points in 67 games. However, the Canucks like the 23-year-old defenceman's offensive play-making ability.
Auld, 25, filled in nicely for injured goaltender Dan Cloutier last season, but will have to battle with Jamie McLennan for the No. 1 position in Florida.
Allen, a former first-round pick, scored seven goals and 17 points in 77 games for the Canucks last season, but the 25-year-old former fourth overall pick in 1998 has failed to live up to expectations.
"This is a trade that addresses a number of needs for our hockey club," said Panthers general manager Mike Keenan.
"We've added an experienced and talented forward, a skilled goaltender and a strong defenceman that we expect to help our team immediately."
With files from Canadian Press