Writer’s Note: The content in this article is the sole opinion of its writer, and does not represent the opinions of the entire Devils Army Blog admin and writing staff.
Cory Schneider is described by his peers and others around the NHL as an elite goaltender. To many this is true, as Schneider ranks first in both goals against average (2.26) and save percentage (.923%) among active NHL goaltenders. It is hard to argue against someone who has accomplished all that, but in this article, I will be playing devil’s advocate, and also explore what options the Devils have regarding Schneider for this upcoming offseason.
What is to Blame for his Struggles?
Usually a goaltender who has established himself as an elite net-minder just doesn’t experience such a steep decline in statistics without any reason. Thus, this decline has Devils fans scrambling to figure out what is wrong with their all-star goaltender, who is still owed six million dollars yearly until the 2022-23 season. The most obvious reason for decline is probably the weak defensive core the Devils have in front of him. This year, the Devils are allowing 31.2 shots per game on their goalie, which is 21st in the league. If you’ve been watching the games this year, it seems a lot of shots Schneider’s faced are in close and usually very good scoring chances, which doesn’t help.
So why is this year different? This brings us back to the situation on defense. Last year he had Adam Larsson and David Schlemko playing in front of him, which is much better than Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout. This brings into question how effective Schneider truly is without an above average defense in front of him. If he truly isn’t, why not explore the options of possibly moving him? My reasoning is the Devils will not be building an above average defensive core in one year. Cory is getting to that age where he should really be in the prime of his career, so why let that go to waste because your team is not ready to compete?
What are the Possible Options?
Keep him: The basic and most popular option among Devils fans is to simply keep him. Cory was documented as saying he wants to be in New Jersey even though it might involve a few years of rebuilding, and if he does stay that’s what he’s getting. By no means is Cory a slouch if he stays with the Devils. I’m sure this year is just a fluke, he’ll find his groove next year, and continue to improve as the Devils use their draft picks and surplus of cap space to build around him.
Trade him: This option is probably the most intriguing one as we know how valuable Cory can be to a team in need of a number one goalie. Although Cory does have a no-trade clause, I’m sure he’d be willing to waive it so he can compete for a cup. There are numerous amounts of good NHL teams who are a goaltender a way from making a run. The Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames are some names that come to mind. Keep in mind Devils fans, the pick that was traded to Vancouver was used to pick all-star center Bo Horvat. Teams can’t win without scoring goals and this is something that has eluded the Devils for years. A trade of Cory Schneider would bring back a huge prize and it might just be worth it if it’s someone of Bo Horvat’s caliber.
- Possible replacements (if traded): If Devils were to trade Cory Schneider it would leave them scrambling to find his replacement. They can look within as Keith Kinkaid may be ready to take the next step, but many believe he wouldn’t be able to handle playing 65-games in one year. The Devils also have a pile of young goaltender prospects in the AHL as Scott Wedgewood, who has been injured for most of the year, has shown flashes of high-quality talent. There’s also 2015 second-round pick Mackenzie Blackwood, who has shown signs of improvement as of late down in Albany. Then there’s Ken Appleby, who has also been a pleasant surprise with the A-Devils this year. Having said that, are any of these guys even ready to take the next step in their careers, or even capable? If homegrown depth isn’t the answer to replace Cory, there are numerous free agents to be had this offseason. With all the cap room the Devils have, they can certainty snag one of these free agent net-minders. The list will most likely feature the likes of Ben Bishop, Peter Budaj, Steve Mason, Brian Elliot, Michael Codon, Scott Darling, and Jonathan Bernier.
Expose him: This is an option that is the least likely and the most unwise as exposing Cory in the upcoming expansion draft wouldn’t really give the Devils any major return. The only return that might come from Cory being chosen in the expansion draft is his six million dollar cap hit would come off the books, and the Devils would be able to protect goaltender Keith Kinkaid. Cory would be the only casualty of the draft regarding the Devils roster as Las Vegas is only aloud to take one player form each team.
If I’m playing the role of “arm-chair GM”, I would look to move Cory this upcoming offseason. The return would be epic and as a team that is currently in deep rebuild mode, so why not trade for younger assets? Like I said, I still believe the Devils are another year or two from competing for a playoff position. By then Cory will be 33-years old and if this poor performance turns out to not be a fluke, then Devils will be stuck with a six million dollar goalie that nobody will want. Many believe without a good goalie you can’t compete for a cup. While this may have something to do with it, you also can’t win without scoring goals.
Trading Cory Schneider will rocket the New Jersey Devils through their rebuild. Let’s also be honest- who wouldn’t want to see another blockbuster trade? As for a potential quick solution to replace Cory, I would love to see the Devils let Kinkaid get a knock at being a starting goaltender. Another scenario I would love to see is the Devils bring in goaltender Scott Darling from the Blackhawks. Darling is having a career year over in Chicago and it would be interesting to see how he would react in a venue different from Chicago.
Writers’s Note: As a writer, I love hearing feedback on what I write, that is why I want to hear your opinion Devils fans on what you would do with Cory Schneider this off-season. Let your opinion be heard.