No. 1 on my unranked list.
Cory Schneider is the man that I will be trolling everyone else's articles about for the foreseeable future. In my opinion, this is not a move Burke must make—it is the move.
The knock against Schneider is his sample size. He's not even compiled a season's worth of NHL games. I don't care.
He's got some serious upside. Sometimes you gamble in professional sports. I like it. I enjoy bravado and generally cavalier dispositions. I don't blame people for falling short if they go hard at whatever it is they're looking to accomplish (unless they're trying to invade Russia).
Cory Schneider is a guy I'd gamble on given what has been seen of him in his relatively short tenure in the NHL for the Canucks. His 2011-12 stats:
A more than capable backup, Schneider is never going to steal the show for keeps in Vancouver. Roberto Luongo is the man there. And he is good. Real good.
While Schneider's services could do well for a host of teams, I am not a fan of them, so I will not waste time entertaining those silly thoughts. Let's face it, he's pretty much exactly what the Leafs need. He's not an average goaltender. He's got very strong potential to be a consistently above-average goaltender.
However, not only is he an RFA, he's an RFA in Vancouver. Enter GM Mike Gillis and his relationship with Brian Burke. While it was Burke who encouraged Gillis to initially go into team management in the early 1990s, the relationship has since soured.
In 2009 Gillis filed tampering charges against the Leafs for comments made by then-head coach Ron Wilson about the possibility of pursuing the Sedin twins during free agency that summer.
Also, comments by Burke in a Leafs TV draft documentary about Gillis potentially going after high picks in the '09 draft irked the Vancouver organization just a bit. It's not a great relationship. We'll just leave it at that.
It would definitely take the most effort to bring in Schneider of any goalie listed, and it would no doubt be the highest cost, but the Leafs will certainly get what they pay for.
Included in that cost, of course, will have to be any mix of picks, prospects, players and for sure an I'm Sorry card. Preferably one with some kind of dog staring out of a doghouse with ridiculously exaggerated puppy eyes.
The thought of the Leafs giving up future talent for goaltenders is going to make some hearts skip beats, deep breaths be drawn and palms slap foreheads, but if Schneider performs like he's very well expected to, those lost picks could be made up in about the same time it took to acquire them.
Cory Schneider is not Vesa Toskala. He's not Andrew Raycroft.
He fills the Maple Leafs' most gaping gap. If goaltending is not addressed aggressively during this upcoming offseason, then the Leafs have no shot at the playoffs next year, either.