“I think you’re going to want to hear this.”
The words of Gary Bettman, trying to silence the boos at the 2013 draft in New Jersey, are still vividly remembered by Canucks fans to this day.
“New Jersey trades the ninth selection in the 2013 NHL Draft to Vancouver in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.”
It was a trade that shocked the hockey world.
For Devils fans, this was a signal of the changing in the guard in goal, because of course, Martin Brodeur was still tending the New Jersey net.
For Canucks fans, this was to end the seemingly never-ending goaltending fiasco – albeit in a remarkably surprising way. Of course, John Tortorella had other ideas, and Roberto Luongo was dealt less than a year later too.
Schneider, after Brodeur finally moved on, has established himself as the star No. 1 goaltender everyone knew he would be. The American netminder posted three straight seasons with a save percentage higher than .920 following the trade.
Former GM Mike Gillis was vilified for making the trade at the time, but now, Canucks fans are quite happy with it.
As Schneider returns to play his former team at Rogers Arena on Wednesday, now seems like a good time to reflect and decide a winner.
Some have suggested that this was a win-win deal for both teams, but it really wasn’t. While Vancouver hasn’t had a better goalie than Schneider since he left town, Bo Horvat – the player chosen with the ninth overall pick – is nine years younger.
He’s now a big part of the future of the franchise.
Also keep in mind how much tougher it is to find a player like Horvat, especially at his age, compared to the ease in which teams seemingly are able to find good goaltenders.
Horvat has quickly established himself as the team’s No. 1 centre coming off a year where he led the Canucks in scoring with 52 points. With seven points in 11 games, he’s off to a good start this season too.
Meanwhile, Schneider’s presence over the last few years would have only served to prop up an underwhelming group in Vancouver that made the playoffs just once in four years.
And really, that’s all he’s done for the Devils.
For the Devils to have won the deal, they would have had to be in a position to need a player like Schneider. They would have needed to be a playoff team, at least.
Instead, New Jersey has missed the postseason four straight years since acquiring their now 31-year-old goaltender, yet never sunk to the bottom of the NHL standings. As it turned out, the Devils needed to rebuild too.
Lucky for New Jersey, Schneider didn’t keep them from acquiring the first overall draft pick. Not in 2017, anyway. New Jersey won the draft lottery, despite having the fifth-best odds, and got to select Nico Hischier with the first overall pick in June.
While Schneider will surely bounce-back from a disappointing season stats-wise – he posted a .909 save percentage in 60 games in 2016-17 – the Canucks would do the trade over again in a heartbeat given Horvat’s age.
Makes you think about what other veteran players Vancouver should have traded for draft picks, doesn’t it?
Despite the fact that the Edmonton Oilers reportedly offered more for Schneider than did the Devils, and despite the fact that the Luongo-Schneider situation was unquestionably handled poorly, we have to call this trade a win for the Canucks.
Schneider’s a very good player – we should take nothing away from him – but his birth certificate and where both franchises are at in their evolution dictates that indeed, the Canucks have won the trade.