Panthers' Roberto Luongo faces tough decision on future

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The 40-year-old netminder is signed through 2022, but may choose to retire after 19 NHL seasons due to ongoing injury woes.

Panthers' Roberto Luongo faces tough decision on future

The 40-year-old netminder is signed through 2022, but may choose to retire after 19 NHL seasons due to ongoing injury woes.

After 19 seasons in the NHL, Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo has a decision to make: return for a 20th season or call it a career and hang up the skates.

This past season, Luongo started 40 games for Florida, going 18-16-5 and registering a 3.12 GAA and .899 save percentage, a significant decline from the previous year where his numbers (2.47 GAA, .929 save percentage) ranked fourth-best in the league among qualified goaltenders who played at least 28 games.

According to TSN's Frank Servalli, Luongo could choose to either play, start the season on the long-term injured reserve or ultimately retire. A lot of this, of course, rides on whether or not Luongo feels healthy enough to continue his career.

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Over the last few seasons, the former Vancouver Canucks captain has struggled with multiple injuries to his hand, groin and hip. The injury to the hip in particular has lingered and had the largest impact on Luongo this year.

The Canucks signed Luongo to a 12-year, $64 million contract in 2010 and ultimately dealt him to Florida at the 2014 trade deadline for Jakob Markstrom, Shawn Matthias and AHL forward Steven Anthony. Additionally, Vancouver retained 15 percent of his salary.

If Luongo were to retire, the Panthers would be relieved of $4.53 million in cap space, while Vancouver would save $800,000. Florida is expected to make moves and is rumored to be interested in signing Artemi Panarin, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent and will surely require a big pay raise.

The Panthers have approximately $20 million in cap space, but beyond potentially inking Panarin to a long-term deal, they'd have to sign a new starting goaltender if Luongo does retire. Florida could also look to do more to bolster its roster as it attempts to get back to playoff form. Not to mention they'll eventually have to sign Evgenii Dadonov and a number of other free agents to extensions in the coming seasons, so having that extra cap space to work with would prove beneficial.

The 40-year-old's resume speaks for itself: 1,044 NHL games played with a career 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage. Luongo also passed Ed Belfour this year for third place on the all-time wins list with 489 victories, trailing only Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.

Regardless of whether or not Luongo retires, he leaves behind an indelible legacy.


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