July 08 2009 11:02PM
Well, Mike Gillis certainly thinks so.
The Canucks GM stated on TSN earlier this week that Cory Schneider will be in the long-term plans of the Vancouver Canucks.
With the Canucks on the verge of signing captain Roberto Luongo to an extension, it's hard to see where Schneider will fit. Schneider himself has alluded to the fact that he feels ready to make the leap to the NHL, and that he has nothing more to learn at the AHL level.
I agree with him.
If Gillis is being truthful and Schneider is in the Canucks plans, then he absolutely has to play on the team this year. He also should be playing a minimum of 20 games this year. He has to get his NHL legs, and he can't do that in 15 games or less.
But I still don't see how he can be in the team's long-term plans as long as Luongo is here. Schneider will be a #1 goalie in this league quickly, and he will not be satisfied riding the pine for 60 games a season, watching Luongo.
So I find Gillis's comments somewhat baffling, given the indications and the rumours that Captain Lou is here for a while.
My hope is that they showcase Schneider this year in 15 games before the trading deadline, and trade him then, or trade him next summer and get some assets back, either roster players or high draft picks. He needs some time in the spotlight to grow his value. I just hope he gets that opportunity to do that this season.
The other youngsters quickly making noise are Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson. After Hodgson's whirlwind season in the OHL, and Grabner's tremendous improvement with Manitoba last year, they both seemed poised to make the team this year.
But are they just Gillis's fallback plan if he fails in free agency?
So far, the dip in the free agent pool has left few ripples for the Canucks, with Mikael Samuelsson as the Canucks only noticeable signing. Mike Gillis stated last year that the Canucks needed to get younger, faster and grittier. To date, Gillis has successfully signed only aging free agents. His acquisitions so far have been Demitra, Sundin and Samuelsson, and he's now rumoured to be targeting 40-year-old veteran (and former Gillis client) Mathieu Schneider. It seems to me that Gillis is flatly ignoring his own mission statement and is simply signing older players to fill holes.
To that end, it appears to me that Grabner and Hodgson are his contigency plan this year. If he can't sign the younger free agents he wants, he'll just slot in Grabner and Hodgson. While I have no problem with that if they're both ready this September, it would be a terrible mistake if they're not ready and Gillis is once again just filling roster holes.
It's time for Gillis to act like like a big-league GM and round out this roster the right way - the way he said he would - with youth, speed and grit.
- Cam Davie