Strombabble: Schneider, Bernier, Brodeur and Leverage

Thomas Drance
June 29 2012 11:59AM

Now that the Cory Schneider extension is "super official," there's some disagreement about what impact that new contract - and other recent developments on the goaltending market - will have on Roberto Luongo's trade value. Mike Gillis has denied it on several occasions, but the Canucks have been in a "trade Roberto Luongo" posture since April. While they listened to buyers at they draft, a deal was never particularly close, and Gillis' asking price for the team's former captain and franchise goaler remained high. Gillis even admitted, while talking about the lack of bonafide NHL starters, that he's "the problem" on the Luongo trade front.

As Gillis waits, the market shifts beneath him. Over the course of the past six weeks, several exchanges have worked in his favour - in particular Tim Thomas' sabbatical and PIttsburgh trading for and signing Tomas Vokoun - while several others - Tampa trading for Lindback, and more recently the news that Martin Brodeur will test the market on Sunday - have arguably crimped it. Meanwhile with the ink still drying on Cory Schneider's spanking new three year, twelve million dollar deal, the question of what impact that will have on Luongo's value is still up in the air.

Let's get into it, after the jump!

Cory Schneider's contract in no way qualifies as a "hometown discount." It cost the Canucks more to re-sign Schneider (in terms of cap-space) than it cost Boston to re-up Tuuka Rask. Schneider's deal will also  a cap-hit higher than the one attached to the deal Winnipeg gave to Ondrej Pavelec - and Pavelec has spent two seasons as an NHL starter.

Four million per for Schneider is roughly market value considering his track record, maybe a bit higher, which, is sensible on the part of both parties since Schneider allowed Gillis and the Canucks to buy out two of his lucrative UFA years. The lack of a "discount" aside, by allowing Mike Gillis "off of the mat" to some extent, Schneider has shown a great deal to commitment to the organization and a remarkable amount of trust in team management. That is his "hometown discount."

Based on the timing of the deal, it's clear that Schneider trusted the team when they said "you'll start for us next season," and he clearly believes Gillis will complete some sort of a Luongo trade before the opening of training camp. Had Schneider held out (which, would've been entirely understandable), had he signed an offer sheet, or had he gone to arbitration without a deal in place; he would've helped to significantly erode Gillis' leverage on the Luongo trade front...

With Schneider locked up, however, Mike Gillis can bide his time. There's no longer the threat of an offer sheet hanging over his head, and no ticking clock counting inexorably down to a mid-July arbitration hearing between Schneider and the club. Gillis now has his ducks in a row and can wait for those teams that are desperate for an elite level starting goalie to meet his exorbitant asking price. Gillis still probably won't get all of what he's asking for - especially if the price remain Gardiner++ or Bjugstad++ - but a potential Luongo deal is complicated enough without the pressures that would've arose had Schneider been less pliable.

Some folks are looking at the situation, and saying it's possible that Gillis' control is diminished as a result of Schneider's new cap-hit. The thinking goes that Vancouver's General Manager is now a "motivated seller," since the Canucks have over 9.2 million in cap-space committed to two players who can never share the ice. But I just don't see how Schneider's contract status has an immediate, direct impact on Luongo's place in the Canucks lineup, since he doesn't really have one anymore. The rub is that he didn't yesterday morning, either.

Despite Gillis' repeated statements to the contrary, anyone who has been paying attention has seen the writing on the wall for months: Luongo was on his way out this offseason regardless of what the team did with Cory. At the draft, potential trade partners thought they had Gillis over a barrel. He had a toxic contract to move, and a lack of cost-certainty in net. Moreover, he appeared vulnerable, and his trading partners had several levers with which to apply pressure on Vancouver's General Manager and those levers included a potential offer sheet to Cory Schneider.

Those levers are gone now, there will be no arbitration hearing, no predatory offer-sheets (unless Eddie Lack receives one), and the Canucks know what they'll be paying for their starter next season. In the meantime Luongo's status hasn't changed at all - he's going to be moved at some point this offseason, just as he was going to be before Schneider ever put his autograph on a contract extension. Gillis has relieved some of the situational pressure on his end, while maintaining the same posture he had last week, and the week before. I can't fathom how that can be described as a "net loss" for him in terms of his leverage.

Even with a bonafide starter in Martin Brodeur and a tantalizing young goaltender in Jonathan Bernier emerging as options over the past twenty-four hours, Luongo remains the best goaltender on the market by a country mile. Also, with the way the goaltending market is looking in light of the Rinne, Quick, Pavelec signings, you have to think that Luu is looking like alright value at his 5.4 million dollar cap-hit

I'd still be shocked if Gillis actually managed to get a top-prospect and a useful roster player in return for Luongo. Luongo is an excellent goaltender but that contract is still limiting, so the market will remain relatively soft. But, with Cory Schneider signed, I'd be equally surprised if Gillis had to take a bad contract back in return. Certainly a scenario in which the Canucks made a desperation trade for someone like Mike Komisarek was more feasible while Schneider's status remained a question mark.

At the end of the day, Jonathan Bernier and Martin Brodeur just aren't the slam-dunk starters coveted by the General Managers in Toronto, and Miami; and two buyers are all you need to drive up the price of an asset on the trade market.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Colin
June 29 2012, 12:54PM
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I don't normally post on CN, however I have been following the Lou saga a lot because it's 1.) Fanscinating and 2.) Stombone is awesome on Twitter.

The only thing I can't figure out is how in the world he's not playing for the wolves next season. He's got a FULL NTC for the next two seasons, and from all reports he's not waving it to go to Columbus any time soon. Toronto is NEVER going to give Gillis anything for Lou and will probably go after Bernier first if the cost is to high on Lou. Florida already has Jose Theodore and he put up almost similar numbers to Lou last year on a much worse Panthers team and has much better contract than Lou, they also have Markstrom coming up and will probably could be the starter in a year or two. Unless Gillis gives a reason for Florida to take Lou I don't see any reason Tallon would take him. If some reason such as Hell freezing over, Broduer leaves the Devils maybe a deal can be reached there. It's quiet there, a lot closer of a flight back to Florida and be a good system for Lou.

I think the only way that Lou doesn't end up in Chicago(wolves) is if Lou goes on waivers and one of NYI, EDM, CLB takes him as they all really need some good goaltending, but I really doubt Lou would ever waive his NTC to go to those places and let Gillis get an asset for him.

He is a Fantastic goalie and I'd love him on my team. But Cap floor teams are not going to want him till his real dollars are lower than Cap dollars and as good as Lou is, Cap floor teams are usually none to big on 10+ year deals, especially with 6 more years at 6.7 million per season. His cap hit only makes sense to a cap ceiling team right now.

I keep seeing names like Gardiner or Gudbranson thrown about, but I just don't see any scenario where that is the return, Gillis would easily be the best GM in the league if that were the case, and who ever he was dealing with would be the worst......... LOUNGO IS GETTING TRADE TO CALGARY FOR GIORDANO!!!!

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#2 Scott McKenzie
June 29 2012, 02:30PM
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I like what Gillis is doing, because I guarantee he knows he's asking so much. By doing so, he diminishes the risk of having to rush into something, which he clearly doesn't want to, and can test what people are actually willing to give up. Once he knows the maximum return he can get, be it from Toronto, Florida or someone else, he can pull the trigger.

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#3 Andy Eide
June 29 2012, 06:02PM
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Good Stuff!

Put me in the 'this helps the Luongo trade' camp.

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#4 dan
June 30 2012, 02:20PM
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Canucks can keep both goalies (if they have to) until Kesler is healthy in the hopes that an injury pops up to a contending team..or even until the TD ..then Lui's value goes up... yes its a gamble but one I think is worth it if the market is soft now. The Canucks as automatic playoff team due to weak division don't need the extra cap space until then...this is better than giving him away...!

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