Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider has posted strong numbers backing up starter Roberto Luongo this season (15-3-2, 2.16 GAA, .930 SP), which has some wondering if this will be Schneider’s final season with the club.
Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday of speculation the Canucks would trade Schneider during the off-season. The rookie netminder has one season remaining on his current contract.
The 25-year-old netminder’s name popped up several times in trade rumors this season, but Canucks management wisely opted to retain him to step in for Luongo when the starter needed a night off.
Schneider is currently earning an affordable $900,000 per season and while there’s some concern management will find it difficult to re-sign key players such as Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff, there’s no need to move their backup to free up cap space.
Given Luongo is firmly entrenched as the Canucks starter and only in the first year of his 12-year, $64 million contract, it’s obvious Schneider won’t get an opportunity to become a starting goalie if he remains in Vancouver.
It’s possible the Canucks will shop Schneider around the league this summer, but unless he forces the issue by demanding a trade, management will most likely retain him for another season before giving serious thought to a trade.
FLAMES UNDER FIRE TO KEEP PENDINGS UFAs
Calgary Flames president Ken King and acting GM Jay Feaster recently denied a report from an unnamed player agent who claimed Feaster told him his hands were tied regarding contract negotiations for Flames players until season’s end because he hasn’t yet been named the full-time GM.
Feaster had what King called “full obligations and responsibilities in every sense involving whatever transactions are required,” but as Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun pointed out, it’s cap space, not Feaster’s “interim” tag, that will hamper efforts to re-sign the Flames’ pending free agents.
One Flame who may have played his way out of Calgary is left winger Curtis Glencross, whom Francis believes established himself this season as a second-line scorer who can also play a physical game and contribute on the penalty kill. This all suggests the pending UFA Glencross could triple his $1.2 million salary on the summer’s open market.
Veteran center Brendan Morrison is also eligible for UFA status and will certainly seek a raise over the $725,000 he earned this season.
With a little more than $58 million tied up in 19 players next season, Feaster will have little room to re-sign Glencross and Morrison, plus other UFAs Alex Tanguay and Anton Babchuk unless he can dump some salary.
Feaster would free up $3 million if he demoted right winger Ales Kotalik or loaned him to a European team. Feaster could also try to move left winger Niklas Hagman’s $3 million salary if he can convince a fellow GM Hagman will recover his 20-goal form.
Former GM Darryl Sutter left Feaster little wiggle room to restock the Flames with quality talent this summer, which may ultimately cost them Glencross, Morrison, Tanguay and Babchuk.
PANTHERS’ REASONER SEEKING REASONABLE EXTENSION
Florida Panthers veteran center Marty Reasoner has enjoyed one of his better NHL seasons, which will make him a popular target in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
A strong penalty-killer, Reasoner is on pace for a 31-point performance and his four game-winning goals lead the Panthers this season.
Several teams expressed interest in Reasoner leading up to the February trade deadline, but Panthers GM Dale Tallon resisted those inquiries. Tallon is hoping to re-sign the 34-year-old center before he becomes eligible for UFA status in July.
Tallon acquired Reasoner last summer from the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract worth $1.15 million against the cap, but has likely earned himself a multi-year deal worth up to $2 million per.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.