The New Jersey Devils announced Monday morning that they called-up recently acquired goaltender Louis Domingue. In a corresponding move, the team then announced that they put veteran goaltender Cory Schneider on waivers with the intention of sending him to Binghamton (AHL). That was not the final move for the Devils, as they reassigned goaltender Evan Cormier from the ECHL to Binghamton (AHL). These three different moves – all seemingly minor – leaves a massive question. What is the endgame regarding the long-embattled goaltender?
The Devils’ Goaltending Situation
Cory Schneider’s struggles are well-documented, and for this reason the Devils made a depth move to acquire Louis Domingue from the Tampa Bay Lightning. To demonstrate Schneider’s struggles, he hasn’t tallied a save percentage higher than .908 since the 2015-2016 season. And these numbers have steadily declined each year to .852 through six starts this season. A deeper dive into his numbers show an even uglier picture, Schneider’s even-strength save percentage was .905 last year and this year sits at .833. Each are severely under the league average.
As mentioned above, due to these continued struggles the Devils acquired 27-year old Louis Domingue. Domingue – who has served as a backup for most of his career – has played in 122 NHL games where he owns a career save percentage of .907. During his professional career, he has also played in 97 AHL games, logging a save percentage of .904. After being acquired by the Devils Domingue was immediately sent down to Binghamton (AHL). Through four games he posted a formidable .918 save percentage and a 2-1-1 record.
There is no doubt goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is the team’s number one goaltender going forward. And with the recent moves, it seems as if Louis Domingue will be the team’s number two. Domingue’s prior NHL-experience, along with his recent AHL success should translate into him being able to serve this new role well.
It seems the New Jersey Devils have their goalie tandem for the foreseeable future, which leaves a massive question mark surrounding Cory Schneider. Unfortunately, it seems as if the contract extension former general manager Lou Lamoriello rewarded Schneider with in 2014 – although seemed wise at the time – never amounted to be worth it. The seven-year, $42-million-dollar extension is set to expire after the 2021-22 season, so it’ll be on the books until then. This is unless, of course, the Devils make a move.
The Devils have a few options regarding Schneider that may result in saving money, as well as him no longer being on the roster. The one that was furiously rumored, as well seems the better route for the organization, is a trade. However, it will not be easy trading a 33-year-old netminder, especially one with well-documented struggles, as well as a rocky injury history. A trade with salary retention or one that sees the Devils add a sweetener is possible, and the route general manager Ray Shero may need to go. It is worth noting, several teams may be in need of a goaltender. Examples of these teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
The other option the Devils can pursue is a buyout. This is the quickest way to get Schneider off the roster and has savings, but also a downside. A buyout would result in an immediate cap savings of $4,000,000 for the next two seasons. However, after that, the Devils will have a $2,000,000 cap hit the next two seasons. A breakdown can be seen above. A team like the New Jersey Devils – who have a considerable amount of cap space – may not want to go this option, as having a $2 million dollar cap hit for a player no longer on the roster is not ideal. Especially when – at that point – the Devils will have several players needing a pay raise.
Of course, the Devils can leave Schneider in the AHL for the remainder of the season and the foreseeable future. However, with the news that Evan Cormier was recalled, this seems unlikely. With Cormier’s recall, the Binghamton Devils (AHL) now have three goaltenders on the roster, which are Gilles Senn – who will most likely be the starter – Cormier, and Schneider. They may make do with this trio; however, it seems unlikely. That is why a trade or a buyout may be in the near future for the often-injured Schneider.