After Dwayne Roloson’s disastrous performance last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning desperately needed to acquire a goalie in the offseason. In fact, Tampa Bay was one of the top destinations for a potential Roberto Luongo trade, according to a legion of armchair GMs. After all, Luongo has family in Florida, right? It made perfect sense.
Instead, Steve Yzerman went a completely different route and traded for Anders Lindback of the Nashville Predators, Pekka Rinne’s still-unproven backup, to fill their number one spot. The trade has ramifications for both Canucks goaltenders: first, it removes a potential destination for Luongo, and second, it sets the bar for Cory Schneider’s trade value.
The Lightning paid a fairly hefty price for Lindback, though it did not cost them any roster players. With a wealth of draft picks in hand, Yzerman sent two second-round picks and a third-round pick from this year’s draft, as well as goaltender Sebastien Caron to the Predators in exchange for Lindback, a seventh-round pick, and AHLer Kyle Wilson. Caron has been playing in Germany and his contract is up in the summer, while Wilson is unlikely to play much in the NHL, so this trade can safely be judged as involving the picks for Lindback.
While it has been anticipated that if a Canucks goaltender gets traded it will be Luongo, I am of the opinion that it isn’t that simple. The GM’s job is to do what is best for the team as a whole: even if it was decided that Schneider is a better goalie than Luongo, it’s entirely likely that Schneider would bring back more in a trade, thus making the entire team better. Schneider is younger, has less baggage, and doesn’t have the potentially burdensome long-term contract, so would potentially be more tempting to other GMs around the league.
So if Lindback is worth two second-round picks and a third-round pick, how much is Schneider worth?
Lindback and Schneider have both been full-time backups for the last two seasons behind two of the best goalies in the league, but their results are quite dissimilar. Lindback has posted good, but not great, numbers in Nashville, while Schneider has matched or surpassed Luongo’s numbers in Vancouver. I think it’s useful to compare a backup’s numbers to that of the starter as it can be illustrative of how much a goaltender’s performance is affected by the quality of the team in front of him.
Here’s a quick look at how Schneider stacks up to Luongo over the past two seasons:
As you can see, there isn’t much separating the two goaltenders. I find their even-strength save percentage particularly illuminating: they’re almost identical despite Schneider’s higher overall save percentage and lower goals against average last season. The biggest difference between the two was on the penalty kill, where Schneider had a league-best .959 save percentage while Luongo had a merely average .870 save percentage.
Before anointing Schneider the Greek god of penalty kill goaltending, it’s worth noting that a goalie’s save percentage on the penalty kill rarely stays the same from season-to-season. Tomas Vokoun had one of the league’s best save percentages on the penalty kill last season at .925. This season, he fell to .869. Rinne went from .912 to .888. Brian Elliott had an .858 save percentage on the penalty kill last season; this season he was one of the best in the league at .912. The point is that save percentage on the penalty kill is inconsistent from season-to-season and even strength save percentage is generally more reliable.
Here’s Lindback and Rinne over the last two seasons:
Lindback’s overall save percentage falls well short of Rinne’s in both seasons, but it’s the even-strength save percentage last season that catches my eye. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with not being as good as Rinne, it seems pretty clear to me that Lindback is also not as good as Schneider. Schneider’s statistics stack up with the best goaltenders in the NHL, while Lindback falls soundly into the category of league average.
That’s fine for the Lightning, of course: they could use some league average goaltending. But it also means that Schneider is a lot more valuable than Lindback, which isn’t a blinding newsflash, by any means. Combine his stellar regular season statistics with his performance in the playoffs against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings and it seems likely that Schneider would be worth far more than a few draft picks.
If the Canucks do move Schneider, it would have to be for a roster player who can help immediately, whether a playmaking winger for the second line or a smooth-skating defenceman for Edler’s right side. With the bar set reasonably high by the Lindback trade, that no longer seems outside the range of possibility.
Tags: Anders Lindback, Cory Schneider, one day gillis actually will trade schneider, rampant speculation, trades