Canucks Options at Backup

Kevin LeeContributor IJune 16, 2009

EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 22:  Goaltender Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucks eyes the puck during an NHL preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers on September 22, 2008 at Rexall Arena in Edmonton, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Oilers 4-3 in shootout overtime. (Photo by Jimmy Jeong/Getty Images)

There are many questions regarding the backup position heading into the 2009-2010 NHL season. What are some of the options the Canucks have?

Re-sign Jason Labarbera

Labarbera was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings where he had been the third-stringer and odd man out for a seventh round pick in this month's draft. Upon his arrival in Vancouver, he was thrown into action and had spectacular performances in his first few games as a Canuck.

He also displayed the ability to come off the bench cold to help his team to a victory, something Curtis Sanford could not do.

Labarbera's probably the most talented and best backup goalie Luongo has had in Vancouver, but it is highly unlikely the team would be able to retain him as he most likely want to go a team where he will have a chance to be the number one guy or at least get more than the 10 starts he will get as Luongo's backup. Nor would he welcome the possibility of being demoted to the minors if he is outperformed by prospect Cory Schneider in training camp.

Bring Curtis Sanford back

Curtis Sanford has been a popular backup among his teammates, but he has been unable to secure his job as the Canucks backup.

After, the 2008 season, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis had hoped to bring his former client Stephen Valiquette over from the New York Rangers to serve as the Canucks backup, but was snubbed and retained Curtis Sanford as there were no other better options out there.

This past season, Curtis Sanford lost his starting job to Cory Schneider and then Jason Labarbera while Luongo was injured, then demoted to the minors where he primarily served as the backup to Cory Schneider.

Sanford's been inconsistent during his time as a Canuck mainly due to his lack of size and his chance of getting back into the NHL as a backup is unlikely next season. Sanford will most likely have to take a two-way contract from either the Canucks or another NHL team to work himself back up from the NHL again. Another option could be the Kontinental Hockey League.

Promote Cory Schneider

The general consensus amongst Vancouver Canucks fans is to promote goalie prospect Cory Schneider from starter in the American Hockey League to backup for the Canucks.

Many fans feel that this will prepare Schneider for the starting position the following season (2010-2011) if Roberto Luongo leaves via unrestricted free agency or gets dealt at the 2010 NHL trading deadline. This move will allow Schneider to practice regularly with a NHL club, facing NHL calibre shots and getting in a few starts.

In my opinion, the likely scenario next season is we will see Cory Schneider as the backup to Roberto Luongo and Curtis Sanford retained to be the third-stringer in Manitoba.

In his limited action this past season, Schneider has shown he has NHL potential, but needs to build his book on NHL shooters.


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