On the Schneider Swap and the Horvat Pick: What Just Happened?

Bo Horvat chats with reporters after being drafted on Sunday.

The Canucks made a pretty major maneuver on Sunday, trading Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the ninth overall pick in the NHL draft, which they promptly used to select Bo Horvat.

Horvat is a two-way centreman and he described himself as such in conversations with the media following the pick. "I was really surprised it’s definitely shocking sitting there," Horvat added, "but like I said, anything can happen." Well it’s good that young Horvat is well prepared to deal with incredulity. He is headed to Vancouver afterall, where the most messed up thing imaginable is what one should always be prepared for…

Read past the jump for more thoughts on the trade and pick.

Ultimately Cory Schneider fetched the Canucks less of a return in a trade than Semyon Varlamov netted the Washington Capitals a couple of years ago, though the circumstances there aren’t precisely comparable since the Varlamov deal didn’t take place on draft day, and picks in this seasons draft are particularly valuable.

Essentially Mike Gillis and the Canucks made out better – not in terms of quantity but in terms of asset quality – than the Predators with Lindback, the Kings with Bernier, or the Senators with Bishop. As they should’ve of course, Schneider has a longer and more impressive track record than those three…

As Pierre LeBrun reports, it came down to four teams in particular in bidding for Cory Schneider including the Oilers, the Blue Jackets, the Flames and of course the Devils.

Meanwhile Ryan Rishaug reports that the Canucks were requiring the Oilers to pay a premium if they wanted to be the team that ended up with Cory Schneider:

Again I tend to think that’s sensible. It’s not as if the Canucks accepted a lesser offer to avoid trading Schneider within the division. But if they were going to trade a good young player to the Oilers then the Oilers were going to have to pay a "we’ll have to face you six times a year, and possibly in the playoffs" fee. Edmonton wasn’t willing to, and so Cory Schneider was sold to the Devils for the ninth pick in the draft. I wonder if Vancouver may have been more willing to make a deal with the Oilers, however, if they’d thought Horvat would be snapped up before the ninth pick rolled around…

The Cory Schneider trade will be a tough pill for Canucks fans to swallow, but the fact is, goaltending is unpredictable voodoo. The annalls of hockey history are littered with "can’t miss goaltenders"  who never even reach "everyday starter" status. I don’t think Schneider will be one of those guys necessarily, but he’s not a slam dunk to be much more than a modestly above average starter based on his track record and historical comparables.

At the end of the day Luongo is a surer bet to provide the Canucks with steady, every day starting goaltending over the short-term – albeit with a lower ceiling and diminishing returns as he ages – though that’s offset by the fact that in deciding to keep Luongo and deal Schneider, the Canucks also added a top-10 pick at one of the deepest drafts in recent memory… As we explained repeatedly in the lead up to Sunday’s draft, from a hockey value perspective, keeping Luongo was probably the right call…

Bo Horvat’s comparables in terms of CHL production are underwhelming, but he faced the toughest competition among all London Knights forwards, played in every situation, and was productive offensively while starring on a team that came out of the OHL, and competed in the Memorial Cup. As Mike Gillis told Elliotte Friedman earlier this month: "You better draft centres because it’s impossible to get them." You know what’s not impossible to get, by the way? Goaltending…

Horvat is Mike Gillis’s third straight first round pick from the Ontario Hockey League, and the Canucks have got another pick on the board in the twenty-fourth overall selection. Stay tuned, because the Canucks news today could well get even more interesting.

    • Exactly, this wasn’t a bad return on Schneider given his resume and the quality of this year’s draft.

      The problem I have (and I think most Vancouver fans once they think about it), is that this trade should have happened at the 2010 deadline, or the 2011 draft. Or last summer. Or in the (albeit short) window between the CBA and starting this last season. Or at the most recent trade deadline, etc.

      Right move in terms of asset management to keep Luo and trade Schneider. Absolutely wrong timing.

      Right or wrong, just like Gillis wanted a premium to trade within the division, Vancouver fans wanted a premium on whichever goalie was traded to make up for all the crap that has gone on over the last 2 years.

    • RJ

      I don’t fault MG for trading Schneider as he was the asset who could bring in a greater return. And I don’t discount the logic of trading to NJ, so you don’t have to play him six times a season, with a potential playoff matchup in the first two rounds in coming seasons.

      But I’m wondering how Schneider went from being touted as the best young goalie in the game and the starter of the Canucks (before they realized they couldn’t deal Lu) to having Vancouver media describe him as a goalie who has never been a “full-time” starter, with only an “above-average” ceiling?

    • Loungo will be back on board.

      He is a pro, and I think if he was going to pull a Bure-esque move and sit out or be a crybaby over broken promises from management, he would have done so already.

      Instead he was a good soldier for the organization and handled last season gracefully, far better than most athletes would of. (Can you see many other guys doing things like the TSN skit in a similar situation?)

      Besides, and this is the most important thing IMHO, it doesn’t matter if Luongo hates Gillis at this point. He wants to win a Stanley Cup, and sitting out to force a trade at his age isn’t going to help.

      He also wants to defend the gold medal in Sochi, and he isn’t going to get on the Olympic team, let alone keep his starter role, by sitting in Florida and pouting over how Gillis has screwed the pooch over this situation.

      I bet dollars to donuts that he shows up earlier in Vancouver for training camp, and he has a chip on his shoulder with something to prove.

  • @Thomas

    Maybe it’s because we just gambled a starting goalie with potential star status on a low risk relatively unknown centreman and gained zero immediate and assured talent? Maybe it’s because we just jerked around the franchise’s best goalie to the point where he very publicly revealed his desire to move, only to now have him shoulder our ‘window’? Or is it that we’ve now solidly put both feet into rebuilding and win now such that neither have definition?

    I understand that you like to calm the masses and try and be a voice of reason in this volatile market. But every single hockey outlet has agreed Devils clearly won that exchange, let alone resulting PR mess the Canucks have to deal with.

  • The deal was bad – they got a lesser return than they should have, largely because it was done in haste. The pick was bad – say what you will about bust potential and Horvat is I would think a near-certainty to play in the NHL, they left a top 5 talent on the table – a guy who actually could step into the lineup and be productive in the top 6 on the wing, which is obviously a key hole.

    If they make this deal because they’re surprised to see Nichuskin slip to 9 and want to nab him, fine, but the way it played out is just balls.

  • RJ

    It all comes down to timing. Gillis held out for a max deal and ultimately it backfired. Time ran out and he was forced to take the best deal left on the table. I think he lacks the conviction to pull the trigger and take a risk when necessary.