The fact the Canucks dealt Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils wasn’t a huge surprise. It was obvious to everyone in the hockey world that Roberto Luongo’s hefty contract was proving to be problematic to move. And with an ownership group that clearly didn’t like the idea of writing a massive cheque to buy out the remaining nine years on Luongo’s 12-year, $64-million deal, the Canucks were forced into Plan B: dealing Schneider to get something in return for one of their netminders.
But the return for Schneider was underwhelming at best. Perhaps years from now, forward Bo Horvat will develop into a cornerstone of the Canucks franchise. But it just seems that a 27-year-old goalie—seemingly on the verge of stardom in the NHL—should have been able to fetch more than simply the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Could the Canucks not have leveraged more out of Philadelphia, a team always looking for stability in goal? There was talk that Edmonton had offered a more attractive package in exchange for Schneider and that the Canucks balked at the idea of having to face their former teammate up to six times a year as a divisional rival.
A week ago, the Los Angeles Kings received goalie Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin, and a 2nd round selection from Toronto in exchange for young goalie Jonathan Bernier, who doesn’t have nearly the resumé of Schneider at the NHL level. Using that as a barometer, it seems the Canucks should have been able to land the pick they did and a warm body or two for a player of Schneider’s calibre.
With John Tortorella recently installed as the team’s new head coach, the Canucks still feel their core group is capable of challenging for the Stanley Cup right now. However, Horvat is unlikely to help the team right away. This group needed a player who could step into the lineup and contribute now and for years to come.
The best news for the organization is that it has settled its crease conundrum and alleviated some of the drama that has dogged the club for 15 months since Schneider took Luongo’s starting job in the 2011 playoffs. Like it or not, the Canucks will move forward with the 34-year-old Luongo and will have to find a backup to take Schneider’s spot on the roster. Now it’s up to Luongo to put the past year behind him, continue collecting those massive paycheques, and return to the job he once held as the undisputed starting goalie with the Canucks.
Jeff Paterson is a talk-show host on Vancouver’s all-sports radio Team 1040. Follow him on Twitter at @patersonjeff.