As I write this, the hosts of the Team 1040 morning show are complaining that Cory Schneider was not nominated for the Vezina this year. Add this to the prevailing notion, in a few threads on here, that we can go into the season next year with a Schneider / Lack tandem causes me great feelings of dread and worry for this hockey club. Going into next season with that pair means that we will have 68 NHL games of experience combined. To succeed in this league, your goaltenders need to be able to handle a 60 - 22 split, this ensures that goaltender fatigue is not the cause of an early playoff exit. If RFA Eddie Lack starts 22 games at the NHL level I would hope that, as a rookie, he can win 9 (40%) of those games for us. This leaves Cory Schneider the task of winning 42 (70%) of the remaining 60 games in order to match this years 51 wins This year he won 20 (61%) of his 33 games. To put this into perspective, Vezina candidates: Rinne won 43 games this year, Lundquist won 39, and Quick won 35. To sum it up Schneider will have to put in a Vezina capable season in his first year as an NHL starter, if Lack is his backup. Is this too much to expect from him? I think so.
Next year the Canucks have three choices in regards to their goaltending:
1) The "popular" choice: Starter: Cory Schneider with a veteran Backup
In order for this to happen they would need to re-sign Cory, who is expected to sign for something between $3.5 and $4.5 million, I think it will be closer to 4 million . This gives them about $1.2 Million to spend on a backup while pumping the last $1 million we spent on goaltending in 2011 - 2012 into new offense.
The question will then be who is available as a backup for $1.2?
UFA goaltenders 2012
Too expensive / Your dreaming / too old ( Huet, Brodeur, Roloson, Vokoun,
Prob too expensive / getting a raise over $2 million (Chris Mason, Ellis, Gustavsson, Clemmensen, Hedberg, Harding)
Prob too valuable to their current club (Montoya, Dekanich)
Who's Left (Conklin, Biron, Auld, Raycroft, Sanford, McElhinney, Leighton)
2) The "unpopular"choice keep Luongo & trade Schneider with rookie Lack as backup and Then have Cannata and Clime fight it out if Lack falters.
The return for Schneider will be higher than what we would get for Luongo. And the likely hood of unloading one of our other higher priced contracts (Ballard, Booth or even Bieksa or Kesler) in the deal is also greater depending on the assets we get in return.
3) The third choice is not really probable. Keep both Luongo and Schneider, and institute a "win and you're in" system. It would require Gillis magic to get Cory to sign a cheap 1 year contract and allow him to sign anywhere he wants as a UFA next year for nothing.
The "problem" that every GM wish they had during the season of two number one goaltenders, has turned into a nightmare of sorts for Mike Gillis. Whichever choice he makes will create a polarizing effect on the fan base with unrealistic expectations for this hockey club year after year. The team that strives to be competitive year after year is the team that has the most success year after year. The more often a team is competitive, the more chances it will have to win a Stanley Cup. Sticking with Luongo has given this team a competitive chance the last 7 years, making it to at least the second round five times. It also gave us that chance at the cup. The signs show that Schneider should allow the Canucks that same chance to stay competitive for the next few years. However, history has shown that it is not always the case. The dread and worry that I feel is that this market has had a few years of "Stanley Cup or Bust" mentality. Our team has not got the Cup and we may very well hit the bust.