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Canucks part with Schneider, turn to Luongo

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Cory Schneider is on the move to the New Jersey Devils, likely to soon supplant Martin Brodeur as their No. 1 goalie, and Roberto Luongo is again the starter for the Vancouver Canucks.

With that, two teams on opposite ends of North America hope they have solved their current and future goaltending issues.

The Devils and Canucks pulled off a trade that electrified the Prudential Center crowd at the 2013 NHL Draft on Sunday when New Jersey sent the No. 9 pick to Vancouver in exchange for Schneider, a 27-year-old goalie who has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $4 million annually.

Luongo, 34, has nine years remaining on a contract with an average annual value of $5.33 million per year.

The Canucks used the No. 9 pick on Bo Horvat, a center from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

"Three years ago, we had planned for this, and then Cory just became a great young goaltender, but Roberto took us to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final, won the [Olympic] gold medal -- his resume is impeccable," Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis said from the draft floor. "Our plan three years ago was to develop Cory and move him for a high pick, and that's what we ultimately did."

However, Schneider was thought of as the goalie of the future in Vancouver throughout the 2012-13 season, and the Canucks were trying to trade Luongo. They never found a partner, and Gillis said using a compliance buyout on Luongo wasn't something the organization was willing to do.

"I don't think anybody wants to be buying out players for $25 million," Gillis said. "It's not something in our business that we want to do. We looked at all of our alternatives and [a compliance buyout] just wasn't a viable alternative."

Luongo admitted following the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline on April 3 he was unhappy with his status as the backup in Vancouver and knew his contract was a big reason he was not traded. He was definitely frustrated with the situation.

Sunday, according to TSN, Luongo said he was surprised at the organization's decision to keep him and trade Schneider.

"I'm shocked," he said. "I have to let this sink in and figure out what I'm going to do."

Gillis said he doesn't think there will be any issues with Luongo and the team despite the fact the club was looking to trade him before it realized that would be impossible.

Gillis said he hadn't spoken to Luongo as of Sunday evening but will do so to explain the organization's thinking and its decision. Gillis said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was flying Sunday to meet Luongo to have a conversation with him.

Luongo went 9-6-3 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 20 appearances in 2012-13.

"I need to have a conversation with him and explain what happened," Gillis said. "We've already talked to his agent, Gilles Lupien. I'm not anticipating there being issues, but if there are, we'll deal with them."

Gillis said Schneider was informed he was being moved "as soon as the trade was made." Schneider went 17-9-4 with a 2.11 GAA, .927 save percentage and five shutouts in 2012-13.

"It was pretty shocking," Schneider said during a conference call Sunday night. "I didn't really know what to think. Coming up in the NHL my first year, it was always assumed I was going to get dealt at some point, but nothing ever happened. I think with the [contract] extension last year I felt I got away from trade rumors. But the landscape changed with the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] and it kind of changed the parameters. It's something you have to realize as a player.

"For me, having never been moved, it was new to me. It's exciting to think about the possibilities with New Jersey and joining a team that has had success. With a new organization, you want to come in in good shape and be ready to go and validate their belief in you to give up a high pick in a very good draft. There is a level of consistency there for so long, you want to continue that.

The Devils have three goalies under contract for 2013-14. Brodeur, 41, is signed for one more season at $4.5 million. Johan Hedberg, 40, has one-year and $1.4 million on his deal.

"I don't think you replace Marty Brodeur," Schneider said. "I don't think anyone is going to replace what he has done for that franchise. My hope is to come in and learn from him and take the things that have made him so successful and continue the work he has done in New Jersey and what they come to expect, great goaltending every year. I accept that challenge and I'm excited for it. I think a lot of goalies would be lucky to have worked with both goalies [Luongo and Brodeur] in their careers."

Gillis said a number of teams expressed interest in Schneider, but the GM's goal was to move into the top 10 of the first round.

"We had Bo Horvat targeted and if we could make that trade, we felt it would really benefit our organization," he said.

The Canucks selected forward Hunter Shinkaruk from the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League with the No. 24 pick.

"Bo is a real leader, [an] excellent player," Gillis said. "Hunter is a highly skilled young player from Western Canada and he has huge upside. We're very enthused about both of them."


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