In one of the more exciting moves in the 2013 NHL Draft (or any draft, really), New Jersey traded its ninth overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider. Everyone in the Devils organization seemed to be excited about the acquisition, including Schneider himself, despite admitting that he was surprised.
“Having spent my entire career [in Vancouver] and being with the organization for a long time, I was hoping to spend the rest of my career there when I signed the extension. But circumstances change, the salary cap changed the dynamics of the market. Unfortunately it came down to this; while it’s tough to leave a place like Vancouver, a great hockey city, I’m also really excited to be going to New Jersey and their great organization.”
Martin Brodeur, in typical fashion, did note that Schneider will “have to fight me for [the starting role],” but even he had to admit that this was a smart acquisition: “I’m not going to play forever and I think getting a quality goalie like Cory Schneider in this organization isn’t anything but positive.”
With last year’s drama surrounding Vancouver’s goalie situation, a lot of people have been talking about Schneider going from being a backup to Roberto Luongo to being a backup to Martin Brodeur – both of whom are Olympic gold medal-winning goaltenders – as evidence that this trade isn’t as great as it seems. What’s missing from this analysis is the difference in age and success between Luongo and Brodeur, as well as what the current situation is with both on their respective teams.
It seemed as if both Luongo and the Canucks were looking for a change last season but a good fit never came to pass as the trade deadline came and went. Luongo has been open about his desire to find a different organization to play for, while the Canucks, too, have been forthcoming about their desire to unload one of their goaltender’s contracts and it looked like it was going to be Luongo’s.
Brodeur has been in net for New Jersey for what seems like forever, but he’s getting older and the Devils need to prepare for the inevitable retirement of their living legend. While I’ll defend Marty as hands-down the greatest goaltender ever to play the game, let’s not act as if he hasn’t lost a step or two in recent years. He’s no spring chicken and despite the fact that he’s still got what it takes to make mind-boggling saves on the reg, GM Lou Lamoriello made an incredible steal in bringing in Schneider to build the foundation for what’s next after Marty retires (whenever that may be).
“I think we’re getting a goaltender not only of the present, but of the future,” Lamoriello said of Schneider. “Marty is at a point where he can’t play the way he’s played as far as the number of games he’s played, and this young man has proven to be a number one goaltender and we feel great about it.”
“Marty is still our number one goaltender, there’s no question there,” Lamoriello continued. “It’s just a question of how much he can play to keep at the top of his game.”
It’s a lot harder to bring in someone new when you’re desperate to replace a lynchpin role than it is to work a guy in your system before the need arises, but this move comes at the right time for both the Devils and for Schneider.
“Trying to replace a guy like Roberto Luongo is a tall task, it comes with a lot of pressure, and this will as well,” Schneider said. “Marty has clearly been the best goalie to ever play the game, so I don’t think anybody could come in a replace what he’s done for that franchise and that area. I’m just going to come in and try to be me, and be the player that will be the best for the organization. I’m looking forward to working with Marty, and I think that if a lot of goalies early in their career could work with Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur, you’ve got to be considered pretty lucky.”
Schneider, who went 17-9-4 last season and finished with a .927 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA, is saying all the right things for the time being. He’s a young goalie with tremendous potential to continue to grow into a starting role with New Jersey and the only thing left to see is what he can do on the ice in the Devils system.
That, and what the Devils will do with Johan Hedberg’s one-year, $1.4 million deal.
Plus: New Jersey also drafted D Steve Santini; C Ryan Kujawinski; LW Miles Wood; LW Myles Bell; and G Anthony Brodeur. Yes, Marty’s son. In a mildly related vein, Marty beat out Sergei Bobrovsky as he was selected to be on the cover of EA’s NHL ’14 game, with the help of online and Twitter votes from fans. Good work, team.
Minus: Having to give up the ninth overall pick to get Schneider, although this also could be a plus in that that’s all the Devils gave up.