The New Jersey Devils just wrapped up their 2014 Draft and are about to enter the free agency period which prompted me to think back to the Draft Day trade one year ago, when the team obtained goaltender Cory Schneider. New Jersey traded their first round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (9th overall) to the Vancouver Canucks to acquire Schneider, a talented and promising goaltender about to enter the prime years of his career.
One year later, as I look retrospectively on this trade, it takes on increasing importance with Martin Brodeur looking to test the waters of free agency today and finish his career, in all likelihood, on another NHL club’s roster. The future Hall of Fame goaltender stated to the media that he did not want to stand in the way of Schneider, who is the future of the Devils franchise.
The internet and social media sites have focused their attention now on Schneider’s contract negotiations (he is entering the final year of his current deal) and how much the Devils should pay him and for how many years of term. The rumors have ranged from playing time demands (Schneider refuted those demands as false) to the amount of money being sought in this next contract.
However, despite all the rumors, both sides have a vested interest in getting a new longer term deal done, and both sides have a certain degree of leverage in the negotiations.
Cory Schneider, in his first season in New Jersey, had a record of 16 wins, 15 losses, and 12 overtime losses. His GAA (Goals Against Average) was 1.97 to go along with 1,019 saves, and a save percentage of .921. He capped that off with 3 shutouts tending the goal for the Devils in 2013-14.
When I looked at his splits, the area of concern jumps out, his record on the road: 5 wins, 11 losses, and 8 overtime losses with a 2.29 GAA. His home record is almost the complete opposite: 11 wins, 4 losses, and 4 overtime losses with a 1.58 GAA which is very impressive.
Of course, this is also driven by the amount of goal support he gets from the Devils offensively, and the team played much better at home than on the road last season in that regard.
His play in goal was impressive in January when he started 10 games and had a record of 5 wins, 2 losses, and 3 overtime losses. He allowed just 18 goals in those 10 games, a GAA of 1.51 and a save percentage of .942 in that stretch.
Schneider also played well against the Metropolitan Division which is an important fact to note, with a record of 7 wins, 4 losses, and 1 overtime loss. Those games within your own division are of particular importance now with the changes to the NHL playoff format and the emphasis on division standings.
Both sides have some leverage in this contract negotiation, and it will be interesting to see how it all works out in the coming weeks. The Devils have leverage in that Schneider is entering the last year of his contract, and most players do not like to take the risk of playing without a long term deal in place.
Anything could happen to Schneider this season, he could get injured and then he would hurt his value for his next contract. In the event he has a below average season in the goal net in 2014-15, he will diminish his chances of getting a good contract offer next summer.
The Devils also have an advantage in their location, Schneider likes playing here for the big rivalry games with the other divisional opponents, but he also likes that he plays in close proximity to his family in Massachusetts. The Boston Bruins and the other teams in the Northeast are not looking for starting goaltenders at this point, so the Devils have that as a bargaining chip.
Conversely, Schneider has leverage in the fact that the Devils traded a first round draft pick (and a top 10 pick at that) to obtain him from Vancouver. In the event that Schneider decided to test free agency next summer and leave, the New Jersey front office would look bad in front of their fans and the other teams. They would be known as the front office that lost a young goaltender in the prime of his career and a top-tier draft pick that could have been under their control for several years.
Schneider potentially leaving also would put the Devils in a very bad situation as far as goaltending depth, and they would have to obtain another starting caliber player at the position either via trade or free agency, which would require them to invest assets of either money or other players.
In the end, I do not think Schneider will leave, I think the two sides will work out an agreement that satisfies all parties involved. The rumor mill is full of different scenarios about 4 year deals and 5 year deals and certain monetary levels associated with them.
We are all on the outside of this situation, and I do not like speculation, we will all know when it is a done deal and it is formally announced. I have read some wild things in other reports. I do not think it will be a drawn out process. I think both sides want to get a deal done and move forward.
Cory Schneider is a young and talented goaltender and I am just as excited today as I was one year ago to have him be the player who leads the Devils into the future.
(Statistics courtesy of NHL.com and SI.com. Some background courtesy of Newark Star Ledger)