Vancouver needs to bulk up at centre — and Roberto Luongo is the only ace up general manager’s sleeve

This brings us back to Luongo. Years of suspect drafting and trading picks, by this regime and the one that preceded it, has left the Canucks without a bankroll of prospects from which to purchase help at the deadline.

They can’t afford to trade Nicklas Jensen or Brendan Gaunce or Frank Corrado or this year’s first-round pick. Who they can afford to lose is Luongo.

Despite the failure of the trade mission so far, Gilman gave no indication the club is willing to lower its asking price for the soon-to-be 34-year-old goalie with nine years and $41.6 million US remaining on his contract after this season.

The Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs were willing trade partners in June, but Luongo reportedly refused then to waive his no-trade clause for anyone but the Florida Panthers.

After the Canucks were waltzed in circles by Luongo’s first choice, Vancouver and Toronto tried again to make a deal before and after the autumn lockout. But negotiations didn’t get past a framework that included Leafs’ centre Tyler Bozak and a draft pick because Toronto refused to surrender prospect Nazem Kadri and Vancouver didn’t like the other prospects they were offered.

Gilman insisted the Canucks aren’t being stubborn or unreasonable in their valuation of Luongo.

Bozak is now considered one of the prime rental players – those on an expiring contract – who could be traded before noon Wednesday.

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