Six seasons. Five Northwest Division titles. Two Presidents’ Trophies. A Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Two Vezina nominations. One Hart Trophy nomination. One Lester B. Pearson nomination. One Jennings Trophy. Two team MVPs. A record of 224-115-41. A goals-against-average of 2.35. A save percentage of .920.
Roberto Luongo’s tenure in Vancouver was many things, but disappointing was not one of them.
But that’s irrelevant now. This is Cory Schneider’s team. At a certain point, his stats became too good to ignore. His confidence resonated with the team. He gave the Canucks a better chance to win. And because of that, Roberto Luongo will soon become the first casualty of Vancouver’s Schneider era.
Or will he?
At its core, the Canuck franchise is a business. Every organizational move is the product of extensive investigation and analysis. Trading a goaltender is no exception. Luongo and Schneider are team assets. Any action taken in relation to either player will largely depend on the market and the offers presented. More importantly, it will be taken with the Stanley Cup in mind.
And that’s why trading Luongo may not be the answer.
If the Canucks are truly committed to winning a Cup, the time is now. Not when Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen and Yann Sauve develop. Not when Zack Kassian erases the memory of Cody Hodgson. Not when Mike Gillis’ apparent vision for the organization becomes a reality.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin are under contract for two more seasons. They’ll be expected to finish those deals as point-per-game players. But neither player should be expected to eclipse the 100 point barrier. Simply put, the Sedins’ best days are behind them. And make no mistake about it, Vancouver’s window ends with them.
When the Sedins depart or retire, the organization will lack a first line. There isn’t one being groomed in Vancouver, and there isn’t one developing in Chicago. By process of elimination, Ryan Kesler will move up. His wingers are anybody’s guess. And for those arguing that the Canucks will simply build through free agency, look at Toronto.
In short, this club has two years to win the Stanley Cup. Draft picks and college players are unlikely to help. Immediate impact is necessary. So, logically, if Mike Gillis is committed to dealing a goaltender, he must move the player whose return gets the team closer to the Stanley Cup.
At 26, Schneider is entering the prime of his young career. In 33 games this season, his 1.96 GAA and .937 SV% make him statistically a top three goaltender. In fact, no goalie playing 50 or more games since the lockout has a better save percentage than Schneider (.928).
Importantly, Schneider would provide a potential suitor with a valued sense of control. As a restricted free agent, Schneider is unburdened by a long-term, unfriendly contract. He is also subject to arbitration, thereby providing a trade-partner with two viable options.