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Wednesday Daily Puck: Luongo's Sweet Freedom

Dan Pennucci

Dan is a former sportswriter and English teacher. He has been covering hockey for Rotowire since 2002. Supports the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC.

Tire Pumping
When the news broke on Sunday about Eddie Lack starting Vancouver’s quasi-outdoor game against Ottawa on Sunday, the media circus in Vancouver centered again around Roberto Luongo. The Canucks had dealt Cory Schneider to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, seemingly paving the way for Luongo to be the man on a team many expected to compete much more than they have been. With Lack earning the start in the eventual loss in the Heritage Classic, you had to wonder if the Luongo circus would start all over again.

On Tuesday, Luongo was granted his ticket out of Vancouver, after three years of swirling rumors and press conferences about nothing, Luongo was traded to Florida, the club with whom he established himself as one of the league’s elite netminders before being flipped for Todd Bertuzzi. Heading back to Vancouver in the deal were longtime Panthers’ goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias. It’s been no secret that Florida had been a possible destination for Luongo considering he owns a home there, began his career there and the Panthers were one of the few teams who could absorb his considerable cap hit, although Vancouver will pick up a bit.

The irony of the situation now is that he is teammates with Tim Thomas (at least for now), the goaltender who defeated Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. These two gave fans one of the more honest moments of one netminder critiquing another followed up by Luongo noting that Thomas hadn’t said anything nice about him this series. Thomas responded with a dismissive and humorous quip from Thomas about his job description.

One has to believe Luongo will gladly put the Vancouver fiasco behind him; Following the trade, Luongo’s reaction from his famous @Strombone1 twitter account showed just a palm tree icon.

Long-term this certainly hurts Luongo’s value, as Florida is not a team fond of limiting its opposition’s scoring chances, but Luongo still can play. Those who gambled on Eddie Lack in Vancouver for spot starts now will have the chance to see what the promising youngster can do as Vancouver clings to a playoff spot. Obviously, what scant value Thomas had with the Kitties takes a hit.

There were a handful of trades on Tuesday leading up to Wednesday’s deadline, most of which were about teams shoring up depth. None of the big names, Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson or Ryan Kesler were on the move. However, Vanek was scratched by the Islanders on Tuesday against Winnipeg. Reports also surfaced that Kesler nixed a reunion with former coach Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers.

Some action from Tuesday:
-The Wild acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from Edmonton for a fourth-round pick
-Washington acquired winger Dustin Penner from Anaheim for a fourth-round pick
-Anaheim secured the services of defenseman Stephane Robidas from Dallas for a conditional fourth-rounder
-The Ducks also sent netminder Viktor Fasth to Edmonton for two draft picks.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 8:00 PM
Ottawa Senators (Robin Lehner) at Calgary Flames (Joni Ortio), 9:30 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

Toronto Maple Leafs
Colton Orr, RW - Did not play Monday, game-time decision Wednesday.
Dave Bolland, C -Nearing a return from ankle, but did not play Monday. Stay tuned.

New York Rangers
Mats Zuccarello, RW - Out Wednesday with a lingering hand injury from Sochi, but nearing a possible return later in week.

Washington Capitals
Mikhail Grabovski, C - Did not play Saturday or Sunday with ankle injury, could return Wednesday.
Jack Hillen, D - Should play Wednesday after AHL conditioning stint call-up
Tomas Kundratek, D - Torn ACL, out until next season.
Dmitry Orlov, D - Suspended next two games after hit on Philly's Brayden Schenn Sunday.
Aaron Volpatti, LW - Still awaiting clearance to practice following shoulder injury.

Philadelphia Flyers
Marc-Andre Bourdon, D - Dealing with concussion issues in the AHL, out indefinitely.

Calgary Flames
Matt Stajan, C - Did not play Monday, likely back Wednesday
Curtis Glencross, LW - Still out with an ankle injury.
Karri Ramo, G -Still awaiting timetable to return from knee injury.
David Jones, RW - Out next 3-4 weeks with an upper body injury.
Kevin Westgarth, RW - Undergoing concussion testing, no word for Wednesday.
Michael Ferland, LW - Out for season following knee surgery

Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, G - Skated Tuesday but out Wednesday with a lower-body injury.
Brandon Prust, LW - On IR with upper-body injury.
Michael Bournival, C - Missed Saturday's game with a concussion, out Wednesday

Anaheim Ducks
Mathieu Perreault, C - Placed on IR Tuesday
Stephane Robidas, D - Dealing with leg injury, should be good to go following trade from Dallas. Stay tuned.
Sheldon Souray, D - Hasn't played all year and won't due to wrist surgery.

Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey-A player who has been frustrating to own since his breakout 51-point season as a rookie in 2012, Henrique has found his scoring touch in the games following the Olympic break. The former Windsor Spitfire has five goals in four games, including a tally in Tuesday’s vital win over Detroit. He’s been playing alongside veteran Patrik Elias and Michael Ryder and is giving the Devils a legitimate boost as they battle for a playoff spot. Henrique can probably be had rather cheaply via a trade in most leagues if he was not picked up after his post-Sochi outburst.

Shawn Matthias, C, Vancouver- In the two games leading up to his trip from Sunrise to British Columbia , Matthias had been rather busy for Florida, with three goals and five points. His role with Vancouver remains to be seen, but he is a versatile forward who will be expected to chip in offensively at times for a team that has had trouble scoring all season. Matthias should definitely see his value rise a bit in Vancouver vis-à-vis his role with the Panthers. He should be available in most leagues and can be an option in leagues with daily roster moves if you’re in need of a spot start.

Alexander Stalock, G, San Jose- After the Olympics, it was commonplace to see netminders who were in Sochi to get a night or two off. Antti Niemi didn’t play in any of Finland’s six games in the Olympics, yet has played just one of the Sharks’ four since returning Stateside. Stalock won his two starts and suited up again Tuesday against a struggling Carolina squad. The only game he didn’t play was against Buffalo, where Niemi and the Sharks fell. Stalock stopped all but two shots he faced in Sunday’s win over New Jersey and allowed three goals in a rout of Philadelphia. His numbers aren’t elite, but the fact that he is poaching starts from Antti Niemi shows the Sharks have confidence in him and will use him down the stretch.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh- After allowing 10 goals over two starts last week, Fleury may be making Penguins’ fans think it’s the postseason. He and the Penguins had a rough night Saturday in snowy Chicago, where the driving snowstorm that blanketed the Windy City didn’t seem to slow down the Blackhawks. This performance comes on the heel of a 6-5 shootout loss last week against Montreal. Tuesday’s game against Nashville should give him the chance to right the ship, but owners of Fleury have to be concerned in the season’s final quarter, as Boston is closing in on the Eastern Conference’s top seed.

Henrik Sedin, C, Vancouver- Sedin has failed to register a point in any of Vancouver’s three games since the Olympic break, including the Heritage Classic on Sunday, where the Canucks blew a 2-0 lead. Sedin will have to do without his brother, Daniel, for a bit, but Vancouver has not received a point from it’s No. 1 center since January 13. Henrik missed eight games over that span, but this is Henrik Sedin. Vancouver seems to be dealing some key players, so Henrik might not be on a team closer to rebuilding than competing.

Recommended Pickups
Mikael Granlund, C, Minnesota- Those outside of Minnesota were treated to a breakout performance by Granlund for Team Finland at the Sochi Olympics as the Finns secured a bronze medal. Grandlund grabbed seven points, good enough for second in the tournament and has a goal and three assists in three tilts since the Olympic break with at least one point in each contest. This kid is going to be a legitimate player for the Wild and could have taken that next step. Utilize him down the stretch and definitely remember his name.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.