The New Jersey Devils have agreed to terms with goaltender Cory Schneider on a long term contract extension, which has been extensively reported in the media. The terms of the agreement are not disclosed, though numerous sources with knowledge of the negotiations believe it to be a 7 year deal worth $42 Million.
Schneider is already under contract for the upcoming season, this contract will begin in 2015-16 and last until the 2021-22 season. He is 28 years old and in the prime of his career, but many people around hockey and within the Devils loyal fan base are going to have some issues with this agreement.
The detractors will maintain that it is too much money for a goaltender with a good deal of upside, but Schneider has never been the Number 1 starter for a team. Other factions will criticize the length of the contract with the belief that he will have little motivation to produce consistently under the terms of such a long term deal.
Moreover, other fans and those in the hockey media will attest that the salary cap figure of $6 million per year will serve to be detrimental to the team’s salary cap flexibility in the future.
These sentiments may be partially true, and only time will provide the answers to them. However, in fair balance, as I wrote in a previous piece for this site Schneider had leverage here with this negotiation. The Devils traded a first round draft choice (and a Top 10 draft pick for that matter) to obtain Schneider last summer. If he had left to test free agency after the upcoming season, that would have been a completely embarrassing situation for the Devils.
He is coming into the prime years of his career, it is not like the Devils gave that length of contract or large annual salary figure to a goalie already in his early 30s. The Devils front office also can evaluate character, and I do not think they would have invested in Schneider in this manner if they thought he would “dog it” with his performance. Schneider will come in prepared to play to the best of his ability in every start.
I am slightly concerned about a major injury because that would put the Devils in a tight spot with that contract and no remaining compliance buyouts. However, that risk is part of professional sports.
Schneider is also coming off a season where he was third in the league in Goals Against Average, and he proved that he could play well in big games and in the intensity of the major marketplaces within the Metropolitan Division.
In response to the critics of the salary cap hit of $6 million each year, the revenues from the new televisions contracts plus the additional revenues from other media platforms have put the NHL in position to have some very successful years in the near future. The increase in revenues has a direct correlation to the increase in the salary cap for the players, so that annual salary hit from his contract may appear less problematic when the cap room increases.
A New Era
This contract also signals the beginning of a new era in New Jersey, the franchise has moved on from Martin Brodeur who will always be remembered for all of his outstanding contributions to the success of the Devils. Cory Schneider is now beginning his era of being the starting goaltender in New Jersey. I know some fans are upset because Brodeur was never paid $6 million in one season during his remarkable run as the face of this franchise.
However, times have changed and hockey related revenues are at an unprecedented level, which will lead to bigger average annual salaries for the players. Brodeur helped build the game to be as popular as it is today, and Schneider is going to continue to lead the team to great success in the future.
I am very excited that Cory Schneider is the goaltender for the Devils moving forward, I think he has the talent to return this team to the Stanley Cup championship level in the future.
Please keep checking with Pucks & Pitchforks for further updates on the free agency moves made by the Devils this summer.
(Some background information courtesy of NHL.com and the Newark Star Ledger)