It seems the subject of goaltending and the Vancouver Canucks is giving scribes enough material to last the offseason. In the absence of playoff hockey, for Canuck fans it is a topic more popular than a Justin Bieber tweet is to his legions of Beliebers.
The latest bits of goalie controversy concerning the Canucks is this: on a French language TV show coach Vigneault said that Luongo wants a trade and they'll do what they can to take care of the team's needs, and his. However on the Team 1040 radio station in Vancouver the very next day, his boss said his coach had "misspoke."
GM Gillis went on to say Luongo, 33, had only said he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause if that proves to be best for the team. Noble and markedly different from requesting a trade. Gillis also said recently that he might keep both goalies but that isn't realistic, not with the cap hit and how crowded the Canucks crease has become. Two star goalies works only for so long.
Roberto Luongo vs. Cory Schneider
This space has noted before that talk of Gillis' saying he'll keep both is likely posturing with a view to upping the price. There are enough teams able to afford Luongo's $5.3 million cap hit and desperate enough for goaltending that a suitor will be found. In Toronto Luongo would get them into the playoffs and save Brian Burke's job, while Philadelphia has to find a way of jettisoning Ilya Bryzgalov and finally getting a goalie that can keep the puck out of the net. Further, Chicago and Tampa have superstars but are misfiring without an NHL caliber puckstopper.
Despite all of that, recent remarks of Tampa GM Steve Yzerman suggest an interesting potential scenario. The former Red Wing superstar, who played with some greats like Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood, knows how important a goalie is to a team, even one with oodles of firepower like his. He told a Florida radio station he's looking for a young goalie, one in his 20's, that he could build his franchise around; he said he has no intention of dealing for an older veteran.
Offers on Cory Schneider
Given he has aging stars like Mattias Ohlund, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, each with a 'best before' date fast approaching, Yzerman needs that goalie now. Cory Schneider fits the bill of the goalie he's describing, and does so perfectly. So will Gillis be able to resist moving him if he gets an offer that's much better than the one he gets for Luongo?
For example: Let us stick with Yzerman and say he is not able to find quality in the net anywhere else and he did make offers to Vancouver. For Luongo something like, say, defenceman Eric Brewer; that takes a sizable amount off his cap - Brewer's at 3.8 the next 3 seasons - which allows him to tackle Luongo's contract. Gillis might not get a better offer.
But what if Yzerman were to say he'd add, just like Brewer is, another native of B.C. and another former Prince George Cougar, Brett Connolly to the deal - provided the goalie he got was the 26-year-old Schneider? That's what Gillis will have to deal with throughout the process, one offer for the star veteran with the long, expensive contract, and another for the young, up and coming, RFA star. The Schneider offer will invariably include a player that is, like Schneider, a potential superstar that could impact the league for years.
Could he get Luke Schenn for Luongo but Luke Schenn and Nazem Kadri for Schneider? That is the scenario that might come with the territory of trading one of these two, each team upping the ante considerably for the younger, cheaper, and just as good, goalie. And the upshot isn't so bad, Vancouver would keep the best goalie the franchise has ever had, a goalie they'd intended to keep for a very long time anyhow.
It's gonna be hard for Mike Gillis to hang on to Cory Schneider.