Although the deal can't officially be signed yet the Vancouver Canucks announced they have agreed in principle to a deal with goaltender Cory Schneider. The contract, reportedly a three-year deal worth $12 million, moves the Canucks one step closer to trading former starting goaltender Roberto Luongo.
As the backup goalie in Vancouver last year Schneider had a 20-8-1 record with a .937 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average. Schneider has long been hailed by Vancouver fans that root against Luongo, citing the latter's lack of success in the playoffs. During last year's postseason it became clear Schneider would become Luongo's replacement after coach Alain Vigneault chose to start him during the Canucks first round playoff series against the Los Angeles kings.
Before signing the deal, Schneider didn't seem concerned in the least about his future with the team.
Either way, I'm sure I'll end up with a contract, Schneider said. I don't think that's an issue. I think if I was facing the possibility of not being in the league next year I'd be a little more concerned. I'm comfortable with the idea that it may not be a deal now or in the next week, but eventually I think something will happen...I think you just have to remain patient and you can't panic.
From the standpoint of most other NHL teams the Canucks were in an enviable position by having two quality goaltenders that are each able to shoulder the load. Luongo , not being totally oblivious, read the writing on the wall and after the playoffs requested a trade out of Vancouver. The only snag for general manger Mike Gillis was Luongo's no trade clause, which guarantees the player has the right to veto any trade.
Since Schneider is still too young to be eligible for unrestricted free agency and was set to be a restricted free agent on July 1 his deal can't be legitimized until that date, according the league rules. Due to Schneider's pending RFA status he would've been a perfect candidate for desperate teams to tender him an offer sheet, which would've stuck Gillis with only a disgruntled Luongo as backstop for the team.
With a league-wide need for goaltending there was speculation that Schneider was a target for a number of teams, most notably the Toronto Maple Leafs who have been involved in rumors surrounding both goaltenders. Luongo's whale of a contract (10 years remaining with an annual cap hit of $5.3 million) will already be tough to trade. It'd be a near impossibility with the loss of leverage Gillis would suffer by losing Schneider.
Gillis' announcement a few days before this became a real threat is a clear message to the rest of the league that his goalies will be dealt on terms that the Canucks can control.