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Monday, July 1, 2013
Even a day later, Schneider move surprises

By Pierre LeBrun


NEWARK, N.J. -- The hockey world was alerted to Cory Schneider’s availability on Saturday morning.

What nobody saw coming, however, was where he ended up.

The New Jersey Devils swooped in and acquired the Vancouver Canucks netminder without almost anybody in each inner circle having a remote clue.

"I found out about 10 minutes before the trade was announced," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said, laughing.

Well, that’s Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, right?

The deal was actually consumed between the clubs Saturday night, but Lamoriello was adamant that not a word of it leak, and the Canucks of course complied.

Part of the fear, I think, for Lamoriello was that if the deal had gotten out overnight, Devils fans might not attend the draft knowing the team no longer had a first-round pick.

So it was silence until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stepped to the podium and announced that the Devils had dealt the ninth overall pick for Schneider, an announcement that drew huge cheers from a partisan crowd that understood the Devils had finally found their heir apparent to Martin Brodeur.

All weekend long, the talk was that the Edmonton Oilers were zeroing in on Schneider, and indeed sources told ESPN.com that the Oilers and Canucks met at Vancouver’s hotel on Friday night to discuss the parameters of a possible deal. But the asking price was always too high for Edmonton’s liking: the Oilers’ first-round pick (the seventh overall) plus a prospect and a player to be named. Higher asking price for trading within a division was the Canucks’ thinking. And you can see that.

The Philadelphia Flyers nibbled early on Schneider but didn’t go far down that path. The Calgary Flames got a call, as well, but they didn’t want to give up the No. 6 overall pick as part of a deal. The Columbus Blue Jackets, at the time unsure they could sign Sergei Bobrovsky, also danced a little with Vancouver on Schneider. But, in the end, it was New Jersey winning out.

Some Canucks fans didn’t seem impressed on Twitter that their team got only a draft pick for Schneider, but it was interesting to see the reaction of rival GMs after Vancouver selected center Bo Horvat with that pick.

"Going to be a really good player, high-end two-way center, we were really high on him as well," one GM said.

It’s believed the Carolina Hurricanes, meanwhile, actually debated taking Horvat with the fifth overall pick. They took Elias Lindholm instead.

Point being, before anyone carves up Vancouver for the trade, let’s see how Horvat plays out as a prospect.

What you can criticize the Canucks for, of course, is how they handled the Roberto Luongo’s trade efforts in the past year. In retrospect, which is always easy in the media business, they should have accepted either an offer from the Florida Panthers or the Toronto Maple Leafs at the draft in Pittsburgh a year ago.

Now they have a disgruntled and confused Luongo on their hands, although the decision by Canucks owner Francisco Aquilini to fly to South Florida and meet Luongo at his doorstep was a good first step in trying to massage the situation. It’s going to need more massaging to convince Luongo that he wants to go back into the Canucks’ goal.

The Canucks were also listening all weekend on defenseman Alexander Edler. The Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks inquired Sunday, with the Wings making an offer and the Habs drawing up a possible package. But nothing got close, really. Edler’s no-trade clause on his $30 million, six-year contract extension kicked in at midnight Sunday, so that came and went without him moving. I supposed he could still be moved if he waived it, but Vancouver’s opportunity to trade him without clearance is gone.

Elsewhere


• Another player who didn’t move was Tyler Seguin, who was put on the trade market this weekend by the Boston Bruins. The decision by Nathan Horton to leave the Bruins and head to free agency certainly is part of the reason Seguin wasn't moved, but truth be told, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli still kept listening on Seguin even after he found out about Horton. And while it’s most likely Chiarelli won’t move Seguin now, I wouldn’t close the door on it. The Bruins are disappointed with Seguin in his lack of maturity and focus. If Seguin is still a Bruin come September, there will be an onus on him to become a better pro.

• The New York Rangers were shopping the rights to pending UFA winger Ryane Clowe on Sunday. The Rangers actually really like the player but the decision to not buy out Brad Richards has left them with next to no cap room and certainly not enough to re-sign Clowe, who is headed to the open market.

• The Blue Jackets were very close to re-signing goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, a deal that could have been completed as soon as Monday. But what a wild weekend it appeared to be for the Jackets. For starters, they took trade calls from other teams on Bobrovsky when it wasn’t clear if they would ever be able to close the gap in contract talks. Meanwhile, sources confirm that the Jackets spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about Ryan Miller, Vancouver about Schneider and even checked in Saturday night with the Phoenix Coyotes on Mike Smith, the latter out of reach after agreeing to terms with Phoenix on a six-year deal worth $5.667 million a season. In the end, unless the Bobrovsky deal falls part, they finally got their Vezina Trophy winner back, which is the best solution of all.

• The Winnipeg Jets were interested in both Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik and ended up with the latter, while Toronto got the former. Good pick-up by the Jets in Frolik, who came into his own this season as a top penalty-killer with the Chicago Blackhawks and played a nice role on the Cup champs. I don’t mind Bolland in Toronto, either. The kid has jam and fills a hole at center.

• Panthers GM Dale Tallon isn’t afraid of making big deals and he certainly tried this weekend, sources confirming that he phoned the Colorado Avalanche a few times and asked about acquiring the first overall pick while also keeping the No. 2 pick. In other words, draft 1-2. Imagine that. But the Avs’ response, according to sources, was an astronomical return and it never went anywhere. Avs coach and vice president of hockey operations Patrick Roy told ESPN.com right after drafting Nathan Mackinnon that nothing ever really came close to make the team think about moving the top pick.

• The Kris Letang extension was still not completed as Sunday came and went. The sides are close on an eight-year, $58 million deal, but there remain a few snags to iron out. “We’re still working on it,” Pens GM Ray Shero said.

• The Vincent Lecavalier courtship continued Sunday with the UFA center meeting with Detroit and Calgary, a day after meeting with the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and Boston. Three other clubs called after the fact Sunday to express their interest, putting the list at a dozen teams. This was not the original plan. The Lecavalier camp, led by agent Kent Hughes, had hoped to dwindle the list down by Sunday afternoon. That’s still going to happen, but over the next few days instead. The asking price continues to evolve. It’s going to take $4-5 million a season and 4-6 years to get Lecavalier to sign with you. The longtime Tampa Bay Lightning star went back home Sunday and digested all the information he took in, hoping to start making decisions on which teams are front-runners. The Habs, by the way, had owner Geoff Molson, GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien in their meeting with the hometown boy.

• The Los Angeles Kings made some progress with pending UFA blue-liner Rob Scuderi over the weekend, although there’s still no deal. Speaking of the Kings, kudos to GM Dean Lombardi for sending his seventh-round pick to mentor Lou Lamoriello so he could draft Martin Brodeur’s son, Anthony, also a goalie. Touching moment as Marty himself announced the deal.

• The San Jose Sharks acquired Tyler Kennedy. The Sharks were debating between Kennedy and the Minnesota Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck (later dealt to the New York Islanders) but like Kennedy a bit better. It’s a solid pick-up by GM Doug Wilson, who added some speed and grit in Kennedy, a good third-liner.

• Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish were back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in talking on the floor during the draft. It’s believed Flyers blue-liner Braydon Coburn was the main topic of conversation. It’s a conversation that may continue into the week.

• UFA forward Danny Briere has drawn interest from 15 teams and the expectation is that his camp, led by Pat Brisson, will shorten that list with Briere to 4-5 teams by Tuesday. If you look at Briere’s playoff production, there should indeed be a lot of interest. This guy is clutch performer with a huge heart.

Oh, and it's going to be a very busy week leading up to Friday's opening of free agency.