Membership does have its privileges.
Not only did Mike Gillis address season-ticket holders Thursday evening, the general manager had some juicy news for the gathering of loyalists at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks have come to terms with restricted free-agent goaltender Cory Schneider on a three-year contract extension for $12 million US. Although it comes as no surprise, it does come before he would have been eligible to receive offer sheets from July 1-4 and then file for arbitration.
When reached about the signing, the 26-year-old Schneider was elated but guarded because the club wants to hold court Friday, especially now that it has to explain having two goalies under contract for $9.2 million, which will only ramp up the Roberto Luongo trade speculation and various scenarios.
As for Schneider, it gives the Canucks cost certainty heading into free agency Sunday and gets their new starter out of unrestricted free agency for three years.
“Yeah, I knew about it [contract] but to be honest, we’re going to hold off commenting on it until tomorrow on a conference call,” said Schneider.
His agent, Mike Liut, said the same, but you don’t have to be a math major to figure out it was a good deal for both sides. When the Boston Bruins agreed to terms with goalie Tuukka Rask, 24, on a one-year extension at $3.5 million Thursday, it set some parameters for a Schneider deal. Rask went 11-8-3 last season behind starter Tim Thomas and had a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 saves percentage, which speaks of his potential as a starter with Thomas sitting out next season.
Schneider, who earned $900,000 last season, did the same by laying the foundation for his long-term potential in impressive fashion. A comparable that could have been drawn by his agent was the five-year, $15.9-million deal that Ondrej Pavelec, 24, signed in Winnipeg this week that has a $3.9-million salary cap hit.
Schneider’s numbers were better. The Jets goalie earned $1.3 million last season and went 29-28-9 with a 2.91 GAA (39th) and .906 save percentage (35th). By comparison, Schneider went 20-8-1. His 1.96 GAA was behind only Brian Elliott (1.56) and Jonathan Quick (1.95), and his .937 save percentage ranked second to Elliott (.940). More importantly, Schneider was purposely placed in pressure-cooker situations on the road and took over the crease for good in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup quarterfinal series. That was going to add contract leverage.
And whether it was going to be a long-term deal, an offer sheet or the arbitration route, Schneider maintained a quiet confidence when reached by The Province earlier this week.
“It’s not a situation where I’m not going to have a contract for next year,” he said. “I have no reason to be worried or anything like that.”
With a calm, neutral goaltending style in which his second-shot stability was much better, Schneider built on his promise as the season unfolded. He not only carried the load for five straight victories in November when Luongo was briefly injured, but posted back-to-back shutouts in Colorado and Phoenix in the streak that included a 43-save win in San Jose.
Schneider also had the monumental win in Boston on Jan. 7 and rescued the flat Canucks in the second half of back-to-back road games with a shootout win in Tampa Bay in front of general manager Steve Yzerman, who longed to land the stopper before trading for Nashville Predators backup Anders Lindback.
That could have been another reference point for Liut, because the towering Lindback, 24, is also an RFA at an expiring $875,000, but went just 5-8-0 behind Pekka Rinne last season, and his career numbers are 16-13-2, with a 2.53 GAA and .914 percentage.
Schneider is better at 38-17-4 with a 2.24 GAA and .928 saves percentage. His interest in the art of the deal was probably communicated to his agent, too, because he is a finance major and is on the NHLPA’s negotiating committee to strike a new CBA.