When Devils GM Lou Lamoriello acquired Cory Schneider from Vancouver at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, most figured New Jersey had landed its No. 1 goalie for years to come.
But, as Lamoriello was quick to point out, 2013-14 wasn’t going to be one of those years.
“Marty is still a No. 1 goaltender. No question there,” Lamoriello told the New Jersey Star-Ledger following the deal. “It’s just a question of how much he can play to keep at the top of his game, with back-to-back games and in the Olympic year coming with what will be a condensed schedule.
“This gives us that transition we would’ve loved to have gotten maybe a year ago if it was possible.”
Considering the price New Jersey paid to get Schneider — the No. 9 overall pick (Bo Horvat) in a draft some considered to be the deepest since 2003 — it was curious to hear that a goaltending timeshare could still be play.
To be fair, though, Lamoriello wasn’t working under ordinary circumstances.
There’s no easy way to usher out Brodeur, the most iconic and important player in franchise history. It’s also tough to deny his No. 1 status, considering he’s barely a year removed from backstopping New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final.
The issue with Schneider, though, isn’t just the price paid to acquire him. It’s time for him to play.
Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2004, he’s waited a long time to become a full-fledged No. 1 NHL netminder.
A long time.
At 27, he’s never played more than 33 games in a single season, and only started six career playoff contests. Two other goalies from the ’04 Draft class — Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne — have appeared in far more regular-season games; Al Montoya, the first goalie taken that year, has played in 64 career games to Schneider’s 98 (and Montoya went two years between NHL appearances.)
What’s perhaps most interesting about the dynamic, though, is how Brodeur sees it shaking out in what could be the final year of his career.
“It won’t be difficult for [Schneider]. Hey, we’re in New Jersey,” Brodeur told the Toronto Star. “It’s not going to be prime time with every single start. We’ll be in Carolina and nobody will care who starts a game. If he plays four in a row, it will not be a big deal. If I play four in a year, no big deal.
“That’s what I’m going to say to him. This is going to be a cakewalk for you compared to what you’ve been through the last four years.”