— Jeff Vinnick (@jeffvinnick) June 29, 2013
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…
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.
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:
"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.
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.