Simply put, yes. Cory Schneider must be the starting goalie for the Canucks next season.
About two months ago, I wrote an article highlighting five reasons why Cory Schneider is more valuable than Roberto Luongo.
Since then, we have seen the goalie tandem lead the Canucks to a second straight Presidents' Trophy, Cory Schneider take over the No. 1 job and the elimination of the Canucks (to no fault of either goaltender).
Since all that has happened in the past two months, all five reasons are still viable, as well as the addition of new reasons for why Mike Gillis must trade Roberto Luongo.
First, is age. Luongo is seven years older than Schneider. For Schneider to have as much composure and consistency as he does with such little experience really shows his value. He will continue to improve for years to come, and by the time he's Luongo's age, he very well could be one of the best goaltenders in the league (and arguably currently is).
Next, is injuries. Although Luongo's injury history isn't significant, it is there. Of course, we don't know what the future brings for Schneider, but as it stands now, he is the more durable of the two.
Then we have playing statistics. In the regular season this year, Roberto Luongo had a GAA of 2.41 and a SV percentage of .919. In the playoffs, he had a GAA of 3.59 and a SV percentage of .891.
Cory Schneider, on the other hand, had a regular season GAA of 1.96 and SV percentage of .937. In the playoffs, he had a GAA of 1.31 and a SV percentage of .960.
Should Cory Schneider be the Canucks' starting goaltender next season?
At the time I wrote my first article on this, the statistics between the two were quite similar, with the advantage going to Cory Schneider by a slight margin. That is no longer the case, as Luongo had a lapse in the regular season, and although strong in the playoffs, his numbers did not reflect upon that.
Meanwhile, Schneider has continued to play at elite levels and proved he could handle the pressure of the playoffs. His 1-2 playoff record this season must be overlooked, as he continually came up huge and kept the Canucks in the game on numerous occasions.
In addition, finding a way to dump Luongo's contract would be beneficial to the Canucks. I am a firm believer that contracts should be six to eight years at most. Anything longer than that and you could find yourself in a situation like the Islanders and Rick DiPietro. Ridding themselves of Roberto Luongo's contract would allow Mike Gillis to sign Cory Schneider to a more logical, realistic contract.
Lastly, is the playoff situation. Luongo has a history of not being able to handle the big games. Although his numbers were a bit deceptive this postseason, Cory Schneider still proved that his composure could be extended into the playoffs. The Canucks management clearly identified the variable factor of playing Luongo in an elimination game this postseason, as they put their trust with Cory Schneider.
Now that the season is over, however, two new reasons to make Cory Schneider the No. 1 come to life.
First, is that Mike Gillis owes it to the fans. In the end, fans are what keep a franchise going. They fill the seats, buy the merchandise and essentially pay the players contracts. There has to be a point where the General Manager gives the fans what they want.
Would Roberto Luongo benefit from leaving Vancouver?
In this case, the fans want Cory Schneider. Schneider's incredible play has quickly made him a fan favorite in Vancouver. After trading away another favorite in Cody Hodgson at the trade deadline, Mike Gillis could be run out of town if he parts ways with Schneider as well.
Secondly, Roberto Luongo deserves the opportunity to flourish in another city. His postseason faults have resulted in a lot of hatred towards him, which only furthers his inconsistencies and mental lapses. We must not forget that Luongo is an all-star goaltender. He does have what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, just not in Vancouver.
I strongly believe that if Luongo went to a city where the fans aren't as involved—a city where he can walk down the street without getting harassed and where one bad goal doesn't result in a city-wide scrutiny, he would shine. That place is Florida.
Both Florida teams (especially Tampa Bay) is in need of a No. 1 goaltender, and both have the means to get it done. In addition, Luongo would likely be willing to waive his no-trade-clause to go there, as his family lives there.
In a perfect world, I see the Vancouver Canucks winning the Stanley Cup within the next few years with Cory Schneider between the pipes, and Roberto Luongo hoisting the cup with the help of Stephen Stamkos up front on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Keeping Cory Schneider and trading Luongo would be a win for Schneider, a win for Luongo, a win for Vancouver and a win for Luongo's new home team (provided it's not Toronto).
When the 2012 NHL entry draft is upon us on June 22, we will finally find out whether or not Mike Gillis can do the right thing and capitalize on this opportunity.