Is Cory Schneider for sale? No, you have to pay retail

It seems a reasonable assumption that 2011 — which has, at the time of this writing, about twelve hours left to live — was the last full year in Schneider’s tour of the Vancouver Canucks organization. Most agree that he is ready to be a full-time NHL starter and, since the Canucks already have one of those signed well into the age of the flying car, Schneider’s increase in marginal utility will have to come elsewhere.

There’s very little if regarding a Cory Schneider trade — the suspense surrounds the when. Schneider is in the final year of a two-year, $900,000 deal with the Canucks, after which time he’s sure to see a raise to something a little more commensurate with his abilities.

While Mike Gillis and co. have never seen a cap challenge they didn’t love, I suspect they aren’t eager to pay their backup multiple millions. I also suspect that negotiations on Schneider’s current deal ended with an unwritten agreement that the next round of negotiations would be with a different management group.

It feels like we’ve been saying this for something like five straight years now, but Schneider will likely be moved by the summer draft. (Like Frank Sinatra.)

Still, by the draft is very different than at the draft. Will he be moved before it — like, say, at the trade deadline? That is a far more contentious issue, and with the deadline now less than two months away, the issue has begun to come up.

Gillis appeared on the Team 1040 Friday. He was asked about Schneider. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’m really happy with our goaltending situation and it’s been somewhat baffling to me why people feel like we have to make a change. Cory is a great young goaltender, he’s a really good young player [...] There’s gonna come a point in time where we have to address this situation but I think it’s really early in the process.

He plays a big role in our winning. When we can go into any game we play with either goaltender with the feeling that we’re as good as the guy at the other end of the rink, that’s a pretty good feeling to have. Cory’s a big contributor to our team in a lot of ways. I don’t think people [...] have thought it out all that clearly.

This was enough to convince Head to the Net’s Omar Rawji that Schneider would be with the team through the playoffs, and I don’t think he’s alone in this regard. This is what plenty of people want, and it’s what an increasing number of Canuck fans and media are beginning to expect.

It wouldn’t be the wrong choice to keep Schneider. Depth at goaltending is important, and Schneider has proven that, if Roberto Luongo goes down with an injury or struggles next postseason, the Canucks have a top-notch goaltender waiting in the wings.

But Schneider won’t be retained for this reason. If the Canucks were to move him, they could address the hit to their depth by asking for a goalie in the package coming back.

If Schneider is retained through the deadline, it will be because no one paid what Gillis wanted. Let’s be clear about that. Don’t read into anything he says — at this point, his words on the subject are nothing but asset management.

Consider what he had to say immediately after the comments above:

“I guess if someone came along and offered us something that we felt superceded that, we’d take a look at it for sure, but right now I’m happy with him on our team and unless something dramatic changes, he’ll be on our team.”

In short, everything I just said goes out the window if someone makes the right offer.

Is anyone close? Let’s take a look at another interview Gillis did Friday, this one with Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:

Q. How often do you get calls from fellow GMs about Schneider?

A. I get calls all the time. He deserves it. He is a terrific young player and in the NHL today if you don’t have great goaltending you can’t win. You just look at the quality of chances and the way the game has evolved since the lockout. If you don’t have a No. 1 goalie you are just not going to be successful in this league, you are not going to make the playoffs. And there’s a number of teams that are in that situation that are searching for that kind of player. For now, they’ll continue searching.

If that sounds like a sales pitch, it’s because it is. Gillis knows that Schneider is a highly-sought commodity, and when you have something this desirable, you have to manage its value carefully.

So why would Gillis say he’s not eager to trade Schneider? Because that would be foolishness. If you want someone to pay full price for something, you don’t put it on sale. If you want Cory Schneider, you’re paying retail. And then some. You’re going to have to pry him from Gillis’s hands.

Schneider is available, as he has been all year, and he could reasonably be moved before the deadline. But it’s gonna cost. As Gillis said, the netminder is a huge part of the Canucks’ winning, so he’s not about to trade him just for giggles.

If someone offers what he wants, however, Schneider will be moved tomorrow. So what does he want?

I can’t say for sure, but we can safely say that Gillis won’t be trading Schneider for a prospect and a pick, as Darren Pang suggested the other night. The focus is on the upcoming postseason, and if the offer doesn’t make the Canucks better right now, it will be dismissed.

The Canucks could get by without any major upgrades, but here are two improvements they’d gladly make in the right situation: an injection of skilled toughness in the top nine (preferably on an entry-level deal so they don’t have to make much cap room for him), and a defenseman to play on Alex Edler’s right side (ditto on the contract).

If, before the deadline, someone were to offer a generous package that happened to fit one of these two needs, I suspect they’d pull the trigger and Schneider would finish the 2011-12 season in another uniform.

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16 comments

  1. Dave
    December 31, 2011

    I think you’re right.

    I don’t think Gillis is actively looking to move CS right now, but I am sure he would be willing to move him for the right price – and that price is not going to be prospects and picks. Any move before the deadline would have to both make the Canucks stronger for this season’s Cup run and fit under the cap.

    I don’t think that’s going to happen because it wouldn’t be easy to pull off – but if the right offer’s there I don’t see Gillis hesitating any longer than he did over Higgins.

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  2. tj
    December 31, 2011

    This makes me, selfishly, sad. I wonder if Shneider would prefer to be back-up(ish) on a cup-contending team this year, or a starter on a bottom-feeder team, which is likely where he’ll go.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 31, 2011

      I think Schneider would prefer to play more games.

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      • peanutflower
        December 31, 2011

        Maybe, but what would possession of that great gaudy ring to do his bottom line worth? What player, pine rider, backup or whatever, would pass up that very real chance? He won’t be any less of a goalie next year. I say Gillis keeps him for the duration. I’m going to make a bet with someone if I can find anyone that thinks the opposite.

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    • JS Topher
      December 31, 2011

      The thing about a solid goaltender like Big Red, is that he could turn a decent team into a great team, and a marginal bottom feeder into a playoff contender. There are a lot of teams out there who are in need of an upgrade in net presence.

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  3. Cathylu
    December 31, 2011

    Cory Schneider is pretty much the favorite Canuck in our household. We keep trying to prepare ourselves for the day he leaves us. We know it will happen but we also selfishly hope we stays with through the end of this season.

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  4. Zach Morris
    December 31, 2011

    There’s not a huge market for starting goaltenders in the NHL; Tampa Bay and New Jersey are the teams most in need of a capable young goaltender.
    I’m not sure that Tampa will be willing to give up a significant piece of their team before the playoffs, and New Jersey looks like they’re just going to tough it out with the tandem of Johan Hedberg and Martin Brodeur’s ghost.
    By my estimate, Schneider will be moved between the end of the season and the draft.

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    • Zach Morris
      December 31, 2011

      and also Happy New year’s to the inestimable Mooney, Wagner, Drance,and Erza, and of course all the Bulies!

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 31, 2011

      I’m guessing that Columbus wouldn’t mind a young goaltender who is actually, y’know, not terrible.

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    • Zach Morris
      December 31, 2011

      I guess I coulda stuck the tandem of Curtis Sanford and Stevie Mason’s ghost in there, too

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  5. tom selleck's moustache
    December 31, 2011

    I think the other thing that plays into it is Gillis’ consideration of CS. I can’t imagine how I would feel if my GM was going around and publicly announcing to anyone who will listen: “Hey, I want to trade tom selleck’s moustache! All reasonable offers considered! I’m just a phone call away! We’ll chat!

    So, definitely, part of his PR statements are simply asset management, as you mentioned; but I also think that part of it is respecting the player as a person, which the Canucks have shown to be of great importance under Gillis’ tenure.

    Still, I’d love to see him stay. CS has shown himself to be a really good teammate and his demonstrated value of being able to spell Luongo, especially in the playoffs, has proven itself to be invaluable would be, I think, really, really difficult to replace.

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  6. Raftgeek
    December 31, 2011

    I think we get the most value prior to deadline. Teams often are crazy during this period and can be “played” into paying more. Come the draft every team thinks hey have a clean sheet to work with and all urgency is gone. If we have to wait until the draft we get a pick that’s it. Having said that, if the offers aren’t good at trade deadline keep him.

    On another note Canucks losing right now 3-1 after AV gave the team another day off last day off was prior to Flames. If I’m AV no more days off til July

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  7. J21
    January 1, 2012

    By Gillis’ own logic, anyone in dire need of goaltending probably isn’t much of a contender right now anyway, so I don’t expect anyone to give up an arm and a leg for Schneider during the season in an attempt to put themselves over the top. And I agree Gillis will want what’s described above, in addition to a new backup goalie. So I don’t see it happening during the season (the only impetus for a non-contender to offer much of a package is to beat out competing bids). And given how everybody has pretty solid goaltending anyway, I think this market continues to tilt very much toward the buyer.

    So I don’t see a trade during the season

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    • J21
      January 1, 2012

      Argh, anyone else have trouble editing messages on an iPhone?

      Was just going to add that it wouldn’t be a bad thing to hold onto Schneider as I think he may ultimately be more valuable to the Canucks post-deadline than anything coming back the other way short of a true star player. Even if it means less of a return in the offseason.

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  8. scotchcanuck
    January 1, 2012

    Wonder though what ‘value’ really is for the Canucks here? Problem with deadline or before trade is that getting anyone to improve without going taking back a significant cap hit is going to be a problem. Gillis doesn’t have many overpaid players on the team that are surplus to requirements that allow the space to maximise current value for Schneider.

    Having said that a package of Booth and Schneider might create both the value for another team and the cap space to bring in players who will improve the Canucks now and in the future. Given Raymonds positive return to the fold, is Booth dispensable?

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  9. akidd
    January 2, 2012

    schneider won’t be traded before the end of the season. but more importantly, that summer draft comment was some very high-end punning. wow!

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