Before you utter the words, “Trade him, he doesn’t want to be here,” take a look at what Roberto Luongo actually said on Saturday night’s After Hours on CBC.

After revealing that the captaincy wouldn’t factor into his decision on whether to sign a contract extension, Luongo elaborated on the situation by saying, “I think, first and foremost, I want to win the Cup, and whichever team is going to give me the best chance to do that is the team I want to be with.

“I love Vancouver; it’s a great city with great fans. So far, I’ve really enjoyed my time there. Obviously, this year and next year are going to be a key role in my decision.”

Some will see this as a sign that Luongo is set to bolt after next season, but his answer is consistent with what he has said all along.

Winning has always been priority No. 1, which is why the signing of Mats Sundin was significant beyond this season.

It sends a message to Luongo that the organization is serious about winning now, not simply embarking on a rebuilding project. Mike Gillis will have to show that same type of commitment next season, and then let Luongo decide for himself. To make the assumption that the all-star has already made up his mind is both premature and irresponsible.

Meanwhile, an interesting debate has ensued over the issue of naming the Canucks’ most valuable player this season. Though Luongo was the odds-on favourite to claim that honour, the argument now features the pair of grinders-turned-scorers, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.

Both are very worthy choices, but for slightly different reasons. Kesler has been the Canucks’ most consistent player since the first game of the season. He has parlayed last year’s offensive breakthrough into more power-play time without compromising his ability to kill penalties and shut down highly skilled opponents.

However, Kesler’s most important contribution has been his ability to elevate the play of both Sundin and Pavol Demitra. The Canucks’ most expensive forwards did not exhibit any type of consistency until being united with Kesler; now that trio is often Vancouver’s most dangerous.

Burrows’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of storybook.

The undrafted super-pest worked tirelessly just to earn an NHL contract and was quite content to play the role of relentless checker on the third line.

This season that work ethic has translated into a flair for the dramatic, as seemingly every goal he has scored has been important.

If Burrows isn’t scoring the winning goal, he’s scoring the tying goal or the one that gets the Canucks back into a game they have no business being in.

That timeliness earned him a gig with the Sedins, and all he’s done since joining the twins is produce twelve goals and eighteen points in nineteen games.

Oh yeah, and he still kills penalties despite trailing Daniel Sedin by just two goals for the team lead.

No matter which player gets your vote, it should not be seen as a slight against the other.

Perhaps the most fitting result would be a tie between the two former linemates, as chances are they’d each nominate each other anyway.

– Scott Rintoul is a college athlete, sports fan and broadcaster. He can be heard Monday-Friday on the TEAM 1040 from 6-9 a.m.