The Martin Brodeur Era in New Jersey was already over, but now the future of the Devils' goaltending position is further solidified. General manager Lou Lamoriello announced Wednesday that the club signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a multi-year extension. According to Brian Lawton of Sportsnet, the deal is for seven years and $42 million for an annual average of $6 million. Schneider was due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Schneider joined the Devils after he was acquired in a draft day trade that sent the No. 10 overall pick (Bo Horvat) of the 2013 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks.
In his first season in New Jersey, Schneider shared the net (probably a little too frequently) with Martin Brodeur, but got the majority of the reps. In 41 appearances, Schneider posted a .921 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average, but got comically low scoring support. He ended up with a 16-15-12 record as a result.
Before joining the Devils, Schneider was playing second fiddle to Roberto Luongo in Vancouver. He reached a then-career high 33 appearances in 2011-12 when he posted a .937 save percentage which appeared to signify he was going to see more action.
That was the case in 2012-13, when he appeared in 30 of the 48 games during the truncated season. He again posted a .927 save percentage in a year that was full of drama and speculation that Luongo was going to be traded away.
That's when the Canucks pulled the surprise of the 2013 summer when they dealt Schneider, and not Luongo. As we know now, Vancouver now has neither as Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers last season.
At 28 years old, Schneider has waited long enough to get his first full-time starting job. The mishandled situation in Vancouver and the tip-toeing around Brodeur's farewell season in New Jersey has not created the ideal scenario for the talented netminder. Now he'll have a chance to stand on his own and get the 60-plus annual appearances he has earned.
The $6 million annual average puts Schneider in line with other starting goaltenders in the league in one of the most skewed markets in hockey. It's a $2 million annual raise from his previous deal in which he was a goaltender sharing duties for the bulk of the contract.
The length of the deal may rais some eyebrows as well. It will take Schneider into his age 35 season, so there could be a few years of decline in there. That said, with Schneider's lighter workload than a goaltender of his skill and age may buy him a few extra good years. That's really tough to know for sure, but it's something to mull when judging Schneider against other long-term deals for netminders.
Though Schneider has never been the true No. 1 for his team, he's performed extremely well and his track record suggests he'll be worth the money. There is that slight concern about endurance, carrying a heavier load than he's used to, but there's so much to like about Schneider's game including his career numbers.
In 143 career appearances, Schneider owna s 71-41-20 record, .925 save percentage, 2.25 goals-against average and 12 shutouts.
Those career marks are worth paying for and now the Devils have a quality goaltender to lead them into their post-Brodeur existence for years to come.