The rebuild officially began for the Canucks when they traded away their number one goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers.
The trade was a shock to Canuck fans and the rest of the hockey world.
After the team traded Cory Schnieder at the NHL draft last June, almost everyone thought Luongo was in Vancouver to stay for years to come. If you bet that Luongo would also be traded just eight months later, then go cash in your lottery ticket and join Luongo down in Florida.
Luongo showed nothing but class in Vancouver, and had one last thing to say to Canuck fans before he left for Florida.
Thank you Vancouver for a great 8 years! Really appreciative of all the support especially the last little while. I will miss the LOOO’ing!!
— Strombone (@strombone1) March 5, 2014
Whether you are a fan of the trade of not, here are the two players the Canucks received in return from Florida.
I am so excited to join @VanCanucks and be back in Canada! This is gonna be sweet!
— Shawn Matthias (@ShawnMatthias) March 5, 2014
It was great to hear Shawn Matthias sound genuinely excited when listening to his interview on the TEAM 1040 after the trade. The Missisauga, Ontario native was excited to get a change of scenery after he felt that he had not been given a fair chance while playing in Florida.
“It’s been frustrating here, i was hoping for the change, I’m excited for the change”, said Matthias.
Matthias felt that he was only given an opportunity to shine in Florida when other players were out with injuries. Whenever those injured players returned to the line-up, Matthias was forced to take a backseat in the Panther’s line-up.
Matthias has been a two-way center throughout his career in Florida, and will likely slot into that same role with the Canucks. Tortorella will embrace his physical play and he will be an asset to the Canucks strong penalty kill. He isn’t known for his offensive prowess, although he did have a three point game in his last game as a Florida Panther.
Undeniably, it is a bonus to have a player who wants to play for this team, and Matthias has shown that excitement already.
“I want to try and come in and give 150%, I don’t want to be a weak link.”
The centerpiece of this trade was 24 year old Swedish goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom. He has been considered one of the best goaltending prospects in the league since he was drafted by the Panthers back in 2008. He was projected to be the starting goalie for Florida at the beginning of the season, but when the Panthers signed Tim Thomas, he got the starting job instead.
Markstrom has not faired well in his limited NHL time this season, and has a career 3.21 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. However the one thing to remember about these stats: Markstrom played on the Panthers…
Florida has one of the weakest set of defencemen in the NHL, which is not good for the development of a goalie trying to get his career on track. During the 2013 season, Florida allowed the most goals in the league. This season, they have allowed the fourth-most goals in the league.
Matthias also said this about Markstrom in his interview on the TEAM 1040: “I don’t think he ever got a fair shot in Florida either. as a young goalie, there’s not a lot of support there.”
So don’t be so quick to judge the Swede based on his numbers. He needs some time to play behind the Canucks defence, and also some time to work under the Canucks goaltending coah, Rollie Melanson. Melanson has been an asset to the Canucks organization, and can be credited with some of Eddie Lack’s success this season.