The Calm Before the Storm: A New Paradigm?

On Saturday afternoon Mike Gillis met with the media ahead of Sunday’s NHL entry draft in New York. Gillis addressed the Cory Schneider trade rumours, the teams desire to move up at the draft, and how busy the club was in talking to other teams about potential deals. "We’ve got a lot of balls in the air," Gillis told reporters on more than one occassion, adding that "when there’s good players being talked about, there’s potential for lots of movement."

There have been a flurry of reports throughout Saturday regarding the Canucks and a potential seachange in their posture as regards a goaltending trade. While it still looks to me like the Canucks and Gillis are most likely to keep Cory Schneider and are just deploying a "mad man" approach to disguise their intentions, a variety of reports from guys way more plugged in than I suggest that the Caucks have abruptly changed course on the goalie trade front, are resigned to keeping Roberto Luongo, and are aggressively shopping Cory Schneider ahead of Sunday’s draft…

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Let’s recap the latest after the jump.

Here’s a fascinating nugget reported by Pierre LeBrun on Saturday on TSN:

"The Canucks met yesterday as a front office and realized, "listen, we’re not getting anywhere on the Roberto Luongo trade front."

They’re just not trading that contract, they tried for a year, no one wants that contract. So they said "you know what let’s put Cory Schneider out there for the next couple of days and see what we get in return."

In the end the Canucks front office believes that Luongo and Schneider are just about the same guy in goal. So if you get a nice return for Cory Schneider you’ve actually made your team better, you still have a world class goalie in net in Roberto Luongo, and suddenly you’re a better team. But it’s a pretty dramatic turn of events, and yes there is a lot of interest in Cory Schneider."

Well you know what they say about Vancouver Canucks goaltending: it’s never dull.

Mike Gillis was asked on Saturday afternoon whether or not the existence of compliance buyouts had served to complicate attempts to make trades generally. "As different dimensions evolve for sure," Gillis responded "it’s a change to the landscape and you have to adjust to it… You have to try and stay fluid and react to things as they come your way."

Last summer there was a market for Roberto Luongo’s services at the draft, but Luongo wasn’t prepared to waive his no-trade clause and move to one of the clubs with an interest in paying the sort of price that Mike Gillis was looking for. Then, during the lockout, the league and the players association agreed to have the salary cap’s upper limit descend to 64.3 million for the 2013-14 season. Also a variety of punitive measures designed to punish teams who had signed legal standard player contracts  that were nonetheless seen to have violated the "spirit" of the salary cap and the 2005 NHL/NHLPA CBA, like salary cap recapture, were introduced.

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All of a sudden teams were very conservative about taking on salary cap commitments for the upcoming season, even for useful players. This became evident to me when useful forward Jussi Jokinen cleared waivers ahead of the trade deadline, something that would’ve been unheard of before this most recent season. Of course, this conservatism will be thrown to the dogs in a weeks time when free-agency opens…

Still, we’re left to wonder whether or not new market realities imposed upon NHL clubs by the new rules governing the economic interactions in the league, caused the Canucks to change course on the goaltending front.

Or did the common sense logic of value strike the Canucks in a moment of "outside the box" thinking; where it suddenly became obvious to everyone in the room that, in terms of actual "hockey value," keeping Luongo and adding a Schneider return would surely outweigh the benefit keeping Schneider and adding whatever dregs Luongo brings back in a transaction (or just buying him out outright).

Alternatively, perhaps this is the only way for the Canucks to get out of this mess short of using a compliance buyout. While I still don’t quite buy that the use of a compliance buyout is a non-starter for a business entity as successful as the Canucks are, the notion that a Luongo buyout is a total non-starter for the organization has been reported by some (and suggested by many).

Of course there’s a fourth option too, and that’s that the Canucks are doing what they can to make their intentions inscrutable so as to manufacture leverage and generate maximum options for themselves at the draft…

As for what Schneider might fetch in a draft day trade, Darren Dreger’s report on negotiations between the Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday’s edition of TSN’s "Insider Trading" might serve as a partial explanation of why the Canucks have abruptly determined that Schneider is expendable:

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"The Edmonton Oilers absolutely want Cory Schneider, they are prepared to pay the premium that is expected to be asked and has been negotiated to this point. We can’t say at the moment that there is a deal that is imminent there is some work to be done…"

"Make no mistake about it, the Edmonton Oilers are willing to pay the price and the expected price is the first round draft pick, 7th overall.. (in addition to a top prospect)"

Um… Whoa. Trading Schneider within "Division A" should probably make Canucks fans (and I’d imagine the organization itself) queasy, but if you can get a top-10 pick at an extraordinarily deep and talented draft and an additional prospect in exchange for a goaltender, even one as good as Schneider, that has to be pretty tempting.

Beyond the continued blue-paint drama in goalieville, Pierre Lebrun indicated in the "Insider Trading" segment we linked to previously that the "Canucks have been taking calls all day long" on Alex Eder.

Finally we get to the big quesiton in all of this which is Roberto Luongo. Luongo has spent so much time on the trade block over the past year and a bit that he’s common law married to it. It has been obvious for a while that the two sides were headed for a divorce, and patching things up going forward (even if Luongo is named starter again) might not be easy.

Of course, Luongo doesn’t really have a lot of leverage in this situation, and the only way to get out of Vancouver if the Canucks won’t put him on waivers or use a compliance buyout on him would be to forfeit the remaining forty plus million on his deal and hold out next fall. Tough to see that happening.

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Of course it’s tough to see any of this happening. Which means that the Canucks will go into Sunday positioned as one of the draft’s single biggest wild card teams. Whatever else you think about the latest developments, I tend to think that’s precisely where they want to be.

  • I don’t see why you don’t think a trade like this can happen. The Canucks just signed Ericsson, Lack has shown promise, Cannata is a bit of a wildcard (looked good on the bench!). If the Oilers are willing to part with a first rounder and a prospect, and mgt is staring down the barrel of a whopping buy out after the Bryzgalov and Lecavalier precedents, you gotta think that’s pretty tempting, no?

    Plus, with few exceptions, your own commenters have pretty much all come to the conclusion that the Schneider trade is probably the smarter thing to do at this point. And we all know that Gillis wants to keep CanucksArmy readers happy, esp NM00!

  • Schneids is the only move that makes sense. Nobody was giving up anything for Lu and his stupid contract. We need assets in return.

    I’s deal to Edm. if they provide a far superior return for Schneids. If they don’t pay more then send him elsewhere. Edm. needs to supply a way better offer than anyone else.

    It’d be nice to deal Edler and Burr as well before the no trades kick in. We’re not winning anytime soon with this core so let’s move a couple of them.

  • Anton Lander could be a long-term option for the third line centre spot. He lacks offensive potential though..but if MacTavish wants to throw in Teemu Hartikainen, he brings the “bite” the Canucks want/need.

    As for the 7th overall pick…I’d be thrilled if we could walk away with Elias Lindholm, Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen.

  • If Schneider does end up getting traded, of which I am in favour, what exactly has been the point of having him for the last two playoff runs?

    Could Hodgson and Schneider not have trumped the Kings offer of Johnson and a 1st for Carter by a fair amount?

    And if this is all a ploy to try and drum up a touch of interest in Luongo, how exactly is this going to affect negotiations with Schneider next summer?

    A big mess. All of it.

  • Curious as to what the van fans think. As an Oiler fan most of us are going ballistic at the idea of giving up the 7th pick for schneider.
    It’s not that he isnt worth that in a vacuum, but we have a perfectly serviceable goalie right now, why give up a top notch asset when we have many other holes to fill.
    That being said, what do van fans think of Schneider straight up for the 7th pick?

  • orcasfan

    Yes, please, to the deal that sends Schneids to Edmonton for the 7th plus good prospect! As people have observed before, there is not enough difference between Schneider and Lu, to ignore this opportunity. Go for it Gillis. Get the best deal you can. But, part of the deal has to include a top 7-8 pick this year!

  • orcasfan

    @NM00 “A big mess. All of it.”

    Aw, caman, maybe these last two years have been an elaborate ploy to boost Schneider’s value…now that’d be moneyball.

    On the serious side, checking through Oiler’s bloggers/reporters tweets (at least those I’ve heard of), there’s not nearly as much attention given to the Schneider to Oilers rumour. However, Jonathan Willis did write it up on the Edmonton Journal as an upgrade in goal (although tweeted he didn’t think the Canucks would want Schneider in the same division/conference).

    Eliotte Friedman has an interesting take, suggesting that “sources” said a while ago a long conversation is necessary before the Canucks can pivot back to Strombone.

    All of this makes me think Drance is right with his “mad man” theory, even if the actual story might take a life of its own.

    • orcasfan

      Is Schneider’s value actually that much higher now than it was a year ago?

      I’m not sure.

      Also, if you follow baseball, it’s often discussed that the only time it makes sense to “overpay” for an asset is when a team is at the top of the win curve.

      The Blue Jays acquisition of RA Dickey is an example.

      In other words, even if technically the Canucks get more back in a Schneider deal now than they would have at the 2012 deadline, they participated in two playoffs near the top of the win curve where accepting less for Schneider would have been very valuable.

      And that value has disappeared and can never again be captured.

  • orcasfan


    Oh, I was just being facetious about it being an elaborate ploy. I actually agree with you that Van’s mgt has mishandled the goalie situation. (I say “mgt” because many bloggers/reporters have suggested that Luongo’s contract may have been more the Aquilinis’ idea than Gillis’. At this point, it’s hard to be certain.) I think I’m a little more forgiving given the circumstances, namely, that Schneider overtook Luongo exactly the year that the CBA expired, that eventually led to a salary cap reduction, plus the possibility of compliance buy outs, and retaining salary. All of that could not have been foreseen when they re-signed Luongo.

    As to your question though, has Schneider’s value gone up? I can’t answer with certainty of course. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it has. After all, Schneider has played more games than two years ago, which makes him more proven for interested GMs, and he ended up having a very good season this year. (Most who’ve looked at this think it takes at least 4000 NHL shots to be sure about a goalie, and even there, you often see “goaltending is voodoo” b/c so unpredictable.) Also, perception-wise, he overtook the guy who was signed to the 12 year deal, the erstwhile team MVP. Finally, he’s signed for two more years at a reasonable rate (Mike Smith, according to a Dreger tweet, might sign for 5.5 x 6 yrs!!). Schneider is only 27.

    Check out Jonathan Willis’ take:

    After listing all of that, I guess I convinced myself that it’s very likely his value has gone up over the last two years.

    • orcasfan

      In a vacuum, I do think Schneider’s value has gone up as well for all the reasons you list. But not by an especially significant amount if I had to venture a guess.

      On the other hand, he is only under contract for two more years which may matter to a team like Edmonton that has had issues keeping players.

      And a year ago, I do think the Canucks had some semblance of leverage with their goalies.

      Now, not so much.

      If Schneider were traded with Hodgson for Carter as I think he could have been, there wouldn’t have been a need to waste a 2nd round pick and KConn on rental Roy.

      There are a lot of “what ifs” here. But trading Schneider to improve the team in front of Luongo has always been the logical choice.

      And two years of that value has evaporated into thin air if that is what ends up happening now.

      Mercifully, might I add.

  • orcasfan

    I am in favor of dealing Schneiderman for a top level prospect and a high level pick. Maybe even more depending on where that pick sits.

    It is beyond me why numerous fans think goalies should be just given away. I really wonder what Toronto could’ve done this year if their goalie didn’t fall apart in key situations. The Bruins pulled off a bit of a shocker there. Yet the Maple Laffs fans laughed at getting Lu and thought their second rate keeper would do. Lesson learned.

    Then you get some guy thinking Edmonton has a decent goalie. Well, I really hope Schneids doesn’t go to Edm. cuz he might make them a contender in the very near future. What would make my day is to see them get bounced in round 1 of the playoffs because their goalie came up just a bit short (mind you, we may not see Edm. in the playoffs for a long time but still).

    Anyway, goal is the most critical position. I’m glad to see Gillis is not letting himself get low-balled for either goalie. I will enjoy laughing at teams that decided not to pay of goal tending and get bounced in the playoffs. Man I love laughing at the Leafs – they really are a sad sack story!

  • @NM00

    Yes, like I noted, I agree that the goalie situation has been mishandled, ie, they should have done more with Schneider to improve the team earlier. At the same time, Schneider was a bargain until this last year, and the Canucks were tight against the cap. AndI still think that it was a crazy year for planning, meaning the second the decision was made to try and trade Luongo, it was the worst year possible to do so (cap coming down, new CBA etc). So, in hindsight it seems the obvious thing is to try and trade Schneider. But in a more normal year, Luongo might have been traded for something useful, and the Canucks would have had the younger goalie in his prime. That’s where I’m more forgiving, because the end of the CBA and partial lockout was a complete wild card.

  • I just think there’s too much bad blood that has come up between Luongo and management to really see dealing Schneider as a credible option.

    I find it hard to believe there’s no teams out there who wouldn’t give up a pick, even just a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, for Luongo.

    I can’t believe buyouts and waivers are even being talked about here. It’s not like it’s a bad cap hit like Lecavalier.

  • VC

    As far as Edler goes, I think we will surive without him. Tanev is coming along just fine and doesn’t make the mistakes Edler does, Garrison can do the same job that Edler did on the #1 PP unit.

    The goaltending situation has become a joke with this franchise. How in god’s name do you dangle a professional like Luongo for almost 2 years and then decide nah we are going to trade our newly anoninted #1 and think that Luongo is going to be cool with that.

    It is easy to say that he is a professional and will deal with it, however, go and read his tweets and comeback and tell me that he hasn’t checked out mentally. Also, if he is friends with Schneider, I doubt he will be cool with how this has all been handled.

    The return might be higher with Schneider, but at this point for professional appearance and how we deal with these scenarios, if we want quality FAs coming here, we need to do right by Schneider and Luongo, even if it means that we get less than we want by trading Lu.

  • JCDavies

    No one forced Luongo to go on national TV and volunteer to be traded. The Canucks still could have gone either way with their goalie situation, at that point. He did force their hand a little bit.