The never-ending saga of which goalie – Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider – the Vancouver Canucks will trade could come to an end this weekend.
And then again, maybe not.
On Saturday morning, TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger dropped news that the 27-year-old Schneider is “in play” for a possible trade, with a first-round pick and a prospect as “part of the asking price.”
Schneider took over the starting duties from Luongo during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, when the Canucks were bounced in the first round.
The Canucks and general manager Mike Gillis have been trying to trade Luongo for more than a full year now, but have been unsuccessful, mostly due to the 12-year, $64 million contract Luongo is in the midst of.
He still has nine years remaining on the deal, but the Canucks may still try to move him this weekend.
Schneider’s deal could be much easier to move. He has two years remaining on his current contract, and is worth a cap hit of $4 million.
In 30 regular season games, Schneider posted a 17-9-4 record, with a .927 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average.
But a groin injury suffered towards the very end of the lockout-shortened season derailed a brief but impressive run he was on – back-to-back wins over Detroit and Chicago, and allowing a combined two goals in those two games – and he struggled once reinserted back into the lineup for Games 3 and 4 of the first-round series against the San Jose Sharks.
Related: Gillis says it’s ‘unlikely’ Luongo will be back
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.