He did not come right out and say it.
But in an appearance on a Tampa radio station on Thursday, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman hardly sounded like a man on a mission to land Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo this summer.
“Obviously I’d love to have a 20-year-old [Roberto]or Martin Brodeur and not worry about goaltending for the next 20 years, but that’s hard to do," Yzerman said on 620 WDAE.
"I think everybody’s trying to find somebody that’s that elite guy... My philosophy, I’m trying to find that Hall of Famer goaltender. Good luck trying to do that. It takes time. We’ll find that through the draft, through unrestricted free agency. That guy isn’t there at this time.”
The guy who is there, however, is Luongo, and it's widely believed the Lightning are among the five or six teams on his list of preferred destinations.
That move would make sense, too, as Luongo's wife is from Florida and the team is really only a quality goalie away from contending again given their firepower up front.
But there have been rumblings for weeks now that Yzerman isn't interested in (a) such an expensive acquisition given Tampa's cap situation and (b) a goalie of Luongo's, uh, vintage. (He turned 33 last month.)
For many, the Lightning were seen as the best fit, as they could provide a landing spot where the attention wouldn't be as overwhelming and Luongo could focus simply on playing well.
If they're not interested, it creates a potential problem, as the other teams rumoured on Luongo's list are all ill-fitting for various other reasons.
There's Chicago, which has two goalies under contract and a contender in Vancouver's conference.
There's Florida, which isn't in the running for a top goaltender given management likes the idea of a Jose Theodore tandem with rookie Jacob Markstrom.
Then there's Toronto and New Jersey. The Leafs could certainly use a goaltender, but they have some cap issues to deal with and there's some history between GM Brian Burke, right hand man Dave Nonis and the Canucks ownership and management.
And the Devils still have Martin Brodeur, who should be back in New Jersey next year barring a decision to retire following a Stanley Cup parade.
The complicating factor here is that Luongo is in the driver's seat, as with a no-trade clause he can dictate where he goes. If those five teams mentioned above are his only choices and Tampa's really not interested, that doesn't leave much of a market for him.
This is in large part why it may be difficult to get much of anything for Luongo despite his resume.
Goalies have been relatively easy to come by the past few seasons (i.e. Mike Smith) and none of the other potential options out there come with the type of contractual burden attached to Luongo.
At this point, it's not out of the realm of possibility he ends up back with the Canucks to start next season.
As a backup.