The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they have inked free agent goaltender Andrew Raycroft to a one-year, one-way contract worth $500,000.
Raycroft, 29, will be joining the fourth NHL team of his career after stops in Boston, Toronto, and Colorado. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie in the 2003-04 season, but his NHL career has gone downhill since that high—he was once regarded as a goalie with a bright future, drawing comparisons to Marty Turco and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
With the signing of Raycroft, you can probably expect him to play about 15 games next season with Luongo starting the other 67 games. Every year we head into the regular season, Alain Vigneault talks about reducing the number of games Luongo plays to keep him well-rested for the playoffs, but we will see if it happens this year.
At the same time, it appears that Cory Schneider will not be Luongo's backup this year. Instead, he will spend another year in the minors with the Manitoba Moose. Schneider recently told the Vancouver Province that he would like to play in the NHL next season and believes he has accomplished all he could in the American Hockey League.
So what could this mean?
It could mean one of two things: Either Schneider is going to be traded before the season starts, or the two will compete for the backup job in training camp.
General manager Mike Gillis and owner Francesco Aquilini have shown the willingness to have players with one-way contracts playing in the minors. This past season, the Canucks had Michel Ouellet, Jeff Cowan, Jason Krog, Curtis Sanford, and Matt Pettinger playing in the minors at one point or another. Kyle Wellwood and Lawrence Nycholat were both sent down with the intention of reporting to the Moose.
The Canucks also announced today that they have signed restricted free agent defenceman Shane O'Brien to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million, a $575,000 raise. O'Brien had his rights qualified at $1,025,000.
O'Brien, 25, had an up and down first season with the Canucks. The most memorable moment came when he and Willie Mitchell had a little skirmish at practice when he came to the defence of Mason Raymond.
O'Brien was also a healthy scratch five times this past season. Frustrated, he publicly criticized the team to the media saying that general manager Mike Gillis wanted him to fight more and saw him as a fighter more than a player.