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.Tags: Cory Schneider, trades