Cory Schneider Trade: Winners and Losers of 2013 NHL Draft-Day Deal
The Vancouver Canucks made a splash on draft day when they traded goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils. In exchange, they received the ninth pick in this year's draft, which they used to select forward Bo Horvat of the OHL London Knights.
Due to salary cap limitations and a crowded crease, the pressure has been on Canucks GM Mike Gillis to move a goalie for more than a year. It's been assumed that Roberto Luongo would be the 'keeper to change addresses, but Gillis ultimately chose to clear his crease by trading Schneider.
Here's a look at the winners and losers of Sunday's deal.
Winner: Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks win simply by finally addressing their goalie situation.
In order to fit under next year's lower salary cap, it was imperative that one of their big goaltending contracts be moved. Trading Luongo became virtually impossible with the new CBA rule that stated if a player retires before his contract is up, the remaining cap hit reverts to the team that originally signed the deal.
If 34-year-old Luongo was moved and played, say, three years in a new city before retiring, the $5.3 million cap hit from the last six years of his deal would bounce back to Vancouver.
A buyout would have cleared the books, but ownership was apparently unwilling to spend that money. Schneider had to go, and the Canucks were able to snag a high first-rounder in exchange.
Some will say the return wasn't enough for an asset of Schneider's caliber, but the clock was ticking for Gillis. It was imperative that he pull the trigger.
Loser: Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider's impressive development as an NHL goaltender was ultimately his undoing.
The Canucks' problems started when Schneider's fine play meant that he was pushing Luongo for ice time. Ultimately, he displaced the incumbent during the short 2012 playoff run and was promised the No. 1 job.
In 2012-13, Schneider played about 60 percent of the minutes and posted the better numbers, but a mysterious late-season injury gave Luongo the starting job in the playoffs. When Schneider did return, he got blitzed for nine goals in 117 minutes of play as the Canucks were swept by the San Jose Sharks.
Schneider gets a fresh start in New Jersey, but he'll be playing under arguably the greatest netminder of all time. Martin Brodeur may be near the end of his career, but he's absolutely beloved—and he still likes to play big minutes.
Brodeur has one more year on his current contract. Schneider has two years before he'll become an unrestricted free agent. Can he do enough with this opportunity to set himself up for a big payday with a team of his choice when he finally gets to control his own destiny?
Winner: Roberto Luongo
At season's end, it seemed clear that Roberto Luongo had made peace with the idea that his time in Vancouver had come to an end. He said his goodbyes and put his Yaletown penthouse on the market.
With news of Schneider's trade, it looks like Luongo's first call might have to be to his realtor.
After almost being run out of town at the end of the 2011-12 season, Luongo received universal accolades for his professionalism in dealing with the situation over the last year. He played well and was the better of the two goalies in the playoffs. He also showed a more approachable side to his personality that made him a fan favourite in Vancouver once again.
Luongo now has a tremendous opportunity to rise above the sideshow of the last year. A return to Vancouver as the undisputed No. 1 is a chance to recapture the elite form he showed during the Canucks' best years and his 2010 Olympic gold medal performance.
Loser: Edmonton Oilers
On Saturday, Ben Kuzma of the Province wrote about the possibility of a Schneider trade. According to Kuzma, the Edmonton Oilers were a likely destination, with the price being a first-rounder and a prospect.
When the Oilers picked at No. 7 on Sunday, Kuzma tweeted "Oilers pick Nurse at No. 7. So much for flipping it to Canucks as part of a Schneider deal." Minutes later, the deal went down before New Jersey's No. 9 pick, and Kuzma tweeted, "Oilers are stunned. Their package said to be bigger for Schneider."
ESPN's Pierre Lebrun tweeted that Calgary and Columbus were also in the mix. The Devils may not have offered the best deal for Schneider, but they held the advantage by being in the Eastern Conference.
Schneider will likely continue to be a very good goaltender. The last thing the Canucks need is for him to be backstopping a division rival on the rise like Edmonton.
Winner: Eddie Lack
After three years of the Luongo/Schneider duo in Vancouver, a backup job has become available.
That's music to the ears of prospect Eddie Lack.
The 25-year-old was signed as a free agent in 2010 and has been part of the Canucks' farm system for the past three seasons. Lack missed the second half of the 2012-13 season with the AHL Chicago Wolves following hip surgery, but he's expected to be ready to challenge for a job at the NHL level in September.
Loser: Bo Horvat
Since Schneider was traded straight-up for one draft choice, No. 9 pick Bo Horvat will forever be tied to this deal.
While Horvat was the OHL's playoff MVP and comes out of the successful London Knights organization, Central Scouting projected him as the 14th-best North American skater available this year. TSN's Bob McKenzie ranked him No. 13 overall.
So, Vancouver did take Horvat a bit higher than he was projected.
Chris Peters of CBS Sports gives the Horvat pick a "C" grade—mostly as a result of the asset that was dealt to acquire the player.
The Canucks have made it clear that they're looking to give youth a chance—their salary cap situation virtually requires it. Even an 18-year-old like Horvat might have a chance to make this team, but his every move will be under the microscope as the memory of Cory Schneider lingers.
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