There are players with negotiating leverage, and then there’s Cory Schneider.
The New Jersey Devils traded for Schneider -- giving Gary Bettman one of his greatest NHL Draft moments -- because they saw a chance to acquire a franchise goalie right as theirs was aging out of the gig. Sure, it strained their relationship with Martin Brodeur, but Schneider, 28, played like a starter in 45 games with the Devils last season: .921 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against.
Alas, Brodeur did not, and helped the Devils miss the postseason through their understandable yet detrimental loyalty ...
Schneider is an unrestricted free agent after this season, a season in which the Devils have constructed a veteran lineup – seven players above the age of 33 – in the hopes of taking another whack at the Stanley Cup piñata before transitioning into the next phase of NJD hockey: One led by Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique and John Quenneville up front; Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas on defense; and Schneider as their anchor.
He’s the key to the future … and he’s going to be paid accordingly.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello sounded very optimistic today that he will soon be able to lock up goaltender Cory Schneider to a contract extension. Schneider, 28, would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
“It’s a work in progress and we’re getting closer and closer,” Lamoriello said. “Hopefully, we’ll have that done in the very near future.”
Lamoriello said heading into the off-season that signing Schneider to an extension was a “priority” and he’s been working on it with Schneider’s agent, Mike Liut, for several weeks. Schneider was not officially allowed to sign an extension until July 1, which has now passed.
So what is this contract going to look like?
The cap hit I’ve heard is $6 million per season.
The term I’ve heard is seven years.
That puts Schneider’s contract in the range of Corey Crawford, who got six years at $6 million annually from the Chicago Blackhawks after his Stanley Cup victory. The annual cap hit of $6 million is what Ryan Miller just received from the Vancouver Canucks to solve their goaltending issues, for you lovers of irony.
Schneider is on the last year of a 3-year, $12-million contract he signed with Vancouver.
The leverage that time was the threat of an offer sheet from someone like the Toronto Maple Leafs. The threat this time is the cornerstone of the Devils’ foundation for the future leaving via free agency. In both cases, Schneider will have been rewarded handsomely.
Please note that $6 million would be a higher annual salary than Brodeur ever earned with the Devils during the cap years. For what that's worth...