As the trade deadline approaches, so does the ever present debate on which teams might pull the trigger on a big trade. Although the roar of the rumors sending Roberto Luongo to the Leafs, or was it the Panthers, or was it the Flyers, have mostly subsided, now would be the best time for the Canucks to pull the trigger on a trade for either one of their starting netminders.
So, who do they trade?
Everyone recognizes Cory Schneider to be a worthy NHL starter. He has come out and said that he wished to have a starting role on an NHL team. Luongo has essentially asked for a trade, partly to allow his friend Schneider to have his own net, and partly because he feels that he needs a change. However, as much as Luongo wants to leave for greener pastures (I’m looking at you Florida Panthers), and as excited as Leafs Nation got in the off-season at even the hint of possibility that Luongo could find a home there, it is unlikely that the Canucks will be able to move Luongo and his contract. Let’s face it, the Luongo contract could be the gross domestic product of a small developing nation over the same period of time.
That said, Schneider could be on the move. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, his cap hit is significantly less. He is a top flight starter in a conference that seems to breed starting goaltenders like rabbits. Also, out east there are more than one suitor that would be willing to give up the appropriate amount of players/prospects for Schneider, but might not be able to afford Luongo’s asking price.
One appropriate suitor for the Canucks might be the New Jersey Devils. The Devils, although they have three goaltending prospects in their system, neither Scott Wedgewood, Maxime Clermont, nor Keith Kinkaid are ready for the big show. The Devils have shown, after losing 6 of their last 7 with aging backup Johan Hedberg in net, while ageless wonder Marty Brodeur is sidelined with a back injury. Before the losing skid, the Devils were at the top of the Eastern Conference heap. Now they are 2 points away from being out of a playoff spot.
Another team that could use the help in goal are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Unfortunately, it seems that Leafs Nation may not be interested in Schneider as they’ve deluded themselves into believing Ben Scrivens and James Reimer are both legitimate NHL starters and adequate enough to backstop the Leafs to their first post season berth in almost a decade. Hopefully, reality sets in and the Leafs decide to bring someone in an actual starter, but, at least for the moment, goaltending has seemed to slip off Dave Nonis’ radar.
Carolina, as much as they wish to ride out Cam Ward’s injury with what they’ve got, is in a precarious position. Washington has begun their surge behind exceptional goaltending by youngster Braden Holtby, are only 6 points behind the Canes, and seem to be making a real run to get back into the hunt for a post season berth. If the Canes drop out of the division lead, either to Winnipeg or Washington, they could go from division leader to out of the playoff picture in the matter of a few games. The Canes may come around, and make a push for Schneider.
Lastly, the Philadelphia Flyers are a possible suitor for a Schneider trade. Ilya Bryzgalov has “amnesty buy-out” written across his forehead, and has been mostly unimpressive since signing on with the Flyers. Of course, nothing says broken record than the city of Philadelphia turning perfectly good NHL goaltenders into blithering, spastic idiots that can’t stop a beach ball. That said, the Flyers could be looking to add someone more stability if they find themselves in the grey area between in the playoffs and on the outside looking in.
Mostly, the teams mentioned above would not be willing to make a push for Luongo. However, if Schneider were to become available for a trade, the Canucks might find themselves with a boon of suitors, and may be able to pick the greatest return on their investment on Cory Schneider.
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