NEWARK -- In one fell swoop on Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers' chances of improving their goaltending situation took a huge hit.
The Vancouver Canucks shockingly traded Cory Schneider -- the cheaper, younger, arguably just-as-good-with-more-upside version of Roberto Luongo -- to the New Jersey Devils for the No. 9 pick in the 2013 Draft. With that pick, the Canucks took Bo Horvat, a guy who, like most NHL Draft picks, has a lot of potential but is at least several years away from making a real impact at the NHL level.
From Vancouver's angle, the trade was a bit of a head-scratcher. GM Mike Gillis probably realized it was a near impossibility to trade Luongo's massive contract for anything of value, but it also seemed he was prepared to use a compliance buyout on that 12-year, $64 million contract. Instead, he traded away Schneider and therefore put the starting gig back in Luongo's hands. It's not that Luongo isn't a good goalie -- he's still very good -- but with that contract and a younger, also very good goalie in Schneider, it makes more sense to hold on to the young guy.
Luongo was all but officially checked out of Vancouver from a mental perspective and seems a bit perturbed about still being there, apparently turning down all interview requests on Sunday, but that's something he'll likely get over. After all, he has a starting gig once again and he's certainly a good enough goaltender to deserve that spotlight.
Still, it seemed like Vancouver could have picked up more value than just the 9th pick for Schneider. Horvat is a strong prospect, but when he's hitting his prime should it all work out, Luongo will be in his late 30s and probably nearing retirement. So from that perspective, it's a bit strange.
That's where the frustration comes in from the Flyers angle. They picked just three selections behind New Jersey in the first round at No. 11. The value of the No. 9 pick vs. the No. 11 pick isn't that different, so it's a bit of a rub that Paul Holmgren couldn't figure out how to get Schneider away from Vancouver. He very reasonably could have been ours.
Hell, I would have been perfectly comfortable giving up Matt Read AND the 11th pick for Schneider, but apparently it wouldn't have even cost that much. It certainly wouldn't have cost one of Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn, as we all had assumed when rumors of Schneider hitting the market first came to be last week. At age 27, Schneider is a guy who could have held down the Flyers' starting gig for the next 7-10 years. He was worth the 11th pick and then some.
But instead, he's in New Jersey, where he's now the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur. We'll get to see him playing against us for years to come. Hopefully he completely loses his game and his head. Doubtful.
And on the other side, Roberto Luongo won't be bought out. He won't be hitting free agency, where the Flyers could've signed him on a more favorable deal than his current one, nailing down the starting gig in Philly for the next five years or so. He's a Canuck for good now.
Schneider's gone. Luongo's gone. Jonathan Bernier's gone. Mike Smith signed a big deal to stay in Phoenix (or Seattle or Quebec City or whatever), so he's gone. We're down to ... well, Ray Emery and Anton Khubobin, basically, if we're relying on free agency. Maybe Jaroslav Halak or Ryan Miller if we're going the trade route. Options, yes, but we're getting a bit limited now.
Sunday's deal between the Devils and Canucks was not a good thing for the Philadelphia Flyers.