Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Vancouver Canucks.
Before the 2013 campaign started, the big question was who the Vancouver Canucks would trade 34-year-old goaltender Roberto Luongo to in order to facilitate the beginning of the Cory Schneider era.
Of course, Canucks GM Mike Gillis wasn’t able to find a new home for Luongo — or at least never got an offer to his liking — so the question shifted to how they would handle the netminding controversy.
For the most part, it actually worked out fairly well during the regular season. Schneider got the bulk of the starts and posted a 2.11 GAA and .927 save percentage. Luongo’s numbers weren’t nearly as pretty, but his statistics were skewed given the small sample size and two horrendous starts.
Their combined efforts between the pipes helped the Canucks win the Northwest Division despite tepid offensive contributions from most of the team outside of the Sedin twins.
When the playoffs started, Schneider was unavailable due to an undisclosed injury, so Luongo played between the pipes. The San Jose Sharks won Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series, but Luongo still held his own is those contests. Schneider attempted to return for Game 3 and that went poorly with him being yanked after allowing five goals on 28 shots.
Following the match, Sharks captain Joe Thornton poured salt in the wound by saying he felt lucky that the Canucks decided against starting Luongo in Game 3. All the same, Vancouver stuck with Schneider for Game 4 and although he stopped 43 shots, the Sharks still completed the sweep with a 4-3 overtime win.
After suffering back-to-back first round exits, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was fired and replaced with former New York Rangers bench boss John Tortorella.
That’s a significant change given Tortorella’s reputation, but that was hardly the biggest shocker coming out of Vancouver this summer. After making it clear for quite some time that they were interested in moving Luongo, the Canucks instead decided to trade Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, which turned out to be forward Bo Horvat.
Vancouver also used a compliance buyout on 30-year-old defenseman Keith Ballard and signed forward Brad Richardson to a two-year, $2.3 million deal. They still need to ink restricted free agent blueliner Chris Tanev.