Somewhat fueled by the media (yes, I recognize that includes The Canuck Way in a watered down sense), much of the buzz around Vancouver this season has been the ‘goalie controversy’, and who the Canucks should keep, and conversely, who they should jettison. I say Vancouver keeps ‘em both.
All indications thus far from General Manager Mike Gillis point in this direction. Several times during Cory Schneider’s hot run, Gillis was asked if they were going to move their back-up goaltender. Several pundits vocalized that the Canucks needed to make a move, to bring in another piece, possibly on one of the wings, or a top four defenseman. While the addition of one the afore-mentioned pieces might make the lineup look more complete, I assure you, it would hurt the teams’ depth.
Gillis referred his questioners to the Vancouver Canucks travel schedule, something that often goes unnoticed by the majority of armchair GM’s in Vancouver. Often, the Canucks have extended road-trips (they set an NHL record last season, in lieu of the 2010 Olympics), and back-to-back games, making it difficult to lean on one goaltender, even a noted workhorse like Luongo. While it’s true that the new conference alignment for next season will help alleviate some of the arduous travel schedule, it will by no means eliminate it. Therein lies the key for the Vancouver Canucks: Team depth, in order of importance, should start in the crease. If you think about it, how many GM’s, if polled, would willingly break up a William Jennings (tandem with fewest goals allowed during season) goaltending duo (2010/11 Luongo-Schneider, 180 goals)?
Ok, meat and potatoes time. Currently, Schneider is in the last year of his three year deal that pays him $900,000 per season. On July 1st, he becomes a restricted free agent, which means that other teams have a 2 week window to court him, with the knowledge that, even if he signs an offer sheet with them, that the Canucks have Rights to First Refusal. Just as with the Ryan Kesler/ Philadelphia Flyers situation, the Canucks have an opportunity (7 days) to match the offer, or let him go to the team that offered the contract, and receive structured compensation. (table thanks to thehockeywriters.com)
The criteria for RFA draft pick compensation in 2011-12 is as follows:
- $1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation
- $1,034,249 — $1,567,043: Third-round pick
- $1,567,043 — $3,134,088: Second-round pick
- $3,134,088 — $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
- $4,701,131 — $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
- $6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
- $7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks
As you can see, I’ve highlighted the compensation package that I believe the Canucks would likely be entitled to, should Schneider sign a contract with another team (granted Van doesn’t match). It’s widely held that this will be the kind of money he’ll be making next season. While a first round and third round pick is nothing to scoff at, the Canucks would be hard-pressed to let him go for that. Considering that they used a first round pick to obtain Schneider (albeit a late 2004 1st rounder), and the development he’s undergone, it would be hard to justify letting him go for a first and a third. The only situation I could see developing where they would even consider this option would be if a Columbus, Anaheim, Carolina or New York (Isles) GM put the offer sheet in front of Cory. That way, the 1st round and third round pick would most likely be a “lottery” pick, with a chance to grab the 1st overall pick, and subsequent early 3rd round.
Ultimately, I feel these scenarios are unlikely to play themselves out. Of course, a lot of unexpected things happen beginning July 1st, and certainly heat up by Qualifying Offer deadline on July 15th. The only way I see Cory Scheider wearing a jersey with anything but an Orca on it will be if Mike Gillis is made “An (trade) offer he can’t refuse”. And it had better be a pretty damn good offer, should a GM want to break up this William M. Jennings winning duo.