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Numbers Game: Canucks ship Schneider to Devils

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Scott Cullen
6/30/2013 5:19:53 PM
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In a draft day surprise, the Vancouver Canucks relieved their goaltending logjam in a surprising manner.

Numbers Game looks at the deal sending Cory Schneider to New Jersey.

The Devils Get: G Cory Schneider.

Schneider, 27, has a save percentage of .931 over the last three seasons, best among goaltenders with at least 75 games and was expected to be the Vancouver Canucks' goaltender of the future, but their inability to move out Roberto Luongo and his sizeable contract, left a Schneider deal as the only viable solution to Vancouver's financial and goaltending concerns.

However, for a variety of reasons, Schneider is a 27-year-old that has yet to play even 35 games in an NHL season and if he's going to be a top-tier starting goaltender, it's about time to take on a starter's workload and maintain the high level of play he's established in his limited NHL playing time.

In New Jersey, the Devils have Martin Brodeur, who has been the backbone of the franchise for nearly two decades, but Brodeur has a .905 save percentage over the last three seasons, which ranks 29th out of 31 goaltenders to have played at least 100 games, and he's 41-years-old, so it's entirely understandable that the Devils are looking to upgrade.

The question is how will the Devils allocate playing time next season? It's the final year of Brodeur's contract and, based on recent play, Schneider has to be the starter. If Schneider gets 55-60 games next year, that would leave Brodeur with his fewest games played since 1991-1992 (though 29 games in a lockout-shortened 2013 season is his lowest since too).

Additionally, veteran Johan Hedberg has another year left on his contract, at a $1.4-million cap hit, and he struggled in 2012-2013 (posting an .883 save percentage), but Hedberg could be moved to a team seeking a veteran backup goaltender though, at that price, the Devils may need to eat some of the salary in order to make Hedberg a more palatable option.

Goaltending was such a problem last season for New Jersey, a team that had some of the best possession numbers but also the 28th-ranked save percentage in the league, so it's possible that Schneider could solve that issue.

New Jersey currently has tons of cap room, but is a team with financial concerns and some high-profile pending free agents, including Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. If they depart, that could affect those strong possession stats going forward.

Schneider is under contract for a couple more seasons, at a cap hit of $4.0-million, leaving New Jersey with $9.9-million tied in to three goalies. That may just be a short-term issue, since the Devils don't appear to be a cap team for next season and both Brodeur and Hedberg are heading into the final year of their respective contracts.

So long as Schneider makes it as a bona fide starting goaltender, the Devils have to be very happy with this deal. The uncertainty of a ninth overall pick (from 1994-2008, six of 15 ninth picks would be considered fringe NHLers or worse) makes the cost quite reasonable for an established NHLer who still has a chance to be a star.

The Canucks Get: The ninth overall pick (used to take C Bo Horvat).

Horvat is a highly-regarded two-way player, who scored 33 goals and 61 points in 67 regular season games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, adding 16 goals and 23 points in 21 playoff games.

He's a two-way centre who had some offensive upside and gives the Canucks some much-needed forward talent in the organization. At the same time, Horvat isn't necessarily providing immediate help. He could use time to improve his skating and a year of strong production in the OHL may give him a better chance to make an impact when he does arrive in the NHL.

Provided he reconciles himself to the idea of returning to Vancouver, Roberto Luongo should be back in line for 60-plus starts next season.

In 20 games last season, Luongo had a .907 save percentage, his lowest since .904 in 1999-2000, his rookie season. With a .919 save percentage in 747 career games, however, Luongo should be expected to play well as a starter for at least a few more seasons.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Cory Schneider  (Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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