Roberto Luongo's trade value is lower than what idle speculators would have you think

With most NHL teams idle right now, fan speculation has kicked into high gear regarding player moves and potential player moves. Some of that speculation is consistent through the league (read: Ryan Suter and Shea Weber). Other speculation is confined to certain cities and regions.

That brings us to goaltender Roberto Luongo, who requested a trade from the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo has completed two seasons of his 12 year $64 million contract and is in the driver's seat regarding where he will accept a trade with thanks to his contracts no-move clause.

Both of those facts give reason why Canucks fans need to lower the bar with speculation on what Lu could command in return in a trade. There are only so many teams that Luongo will accept a trade to... And out of those teams, how many of them are willing to take on the remaining obligations under Luongo's contract?

In other words, Vancouver is dealing from a position of weakness right now. The few teams that are on Luongo's list of trade destinations -- and Tampa Bay is supposedly there - don't need to give up an arm and a leg for Luongo if Vancouver is intent on moving him.

In the summer of 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers found themselves in the same situation: They were forced to move a contract with thanks to being above the NHL salary cap, and they opted to move Simon Gagne who had a no-trade clause. This forced the Flyers hand on where Gagne would go and what they could get for him in return... Because it needed to happen and there weren't other avenues to explore.

Fan speculation and reality stopped at "Flyers trading Gagne" - the parameters that had to be worked with weren't important. The star in Simon Gagne was being dealt and equal caliber was due in return, right? Right?! That means a budding star like Steven Stamkos! Or an established star like Vincent Lecavalier!

As it turned out, the Bolts had to pay all of Matt Walker and a 4th round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft (LW Marcel Noebels) for Gagne's services and the salary cap relief that it provided the Flyers.

The Luongo situation is different from the Gagne situation, however, but not by much. With more teams involved in potential bidding, that means trade value for Luongo may inflate under bidding war conditions... But, again, Vancouver is not dealing from a position of strength where they could set a high asking price, as they would have been able to if they were listening to offers for goalie Cory Schneider instead (who is younger, still improving, and does not have a dead-weight contract to his name). The Canucks will be pulling in a lump-sum return in trade.

This leads us back to speculation from idle fans. Check Hockey's Future or other message forums... The fantasy trades are endless and inane. No goalie has earned a lump-sum return in trade, Luongo included. A draft pick - a 2nd at best - and a marginal prospect will likely net Luongo's services with thanks to his contract baggage. I'm not trying to marginalize the player as-so-much remind people hot goalies have gotten minimum return in recent trades - a draft pick, usually.

Will that fact stop the speculation? No, of course not... Since when does wild trade speculation stop when reality sets in?