If you’re going to pay a guy $42 million, you might as well make him earn it.
That’s the apparent message out of New Jersey this season regarding Cory Schneider — today, head coach Peter DeBoer confirmed Schneider would start for the 17th consecutive time on Friday when the Devils take on the Caps at Verizon.
“Schneids is starting tomorrow night and then we’ll go from there,” DeBoer said, per NJ.com.
To be clear, Schneider’s seven-year, $42 million extension doesn’t kick in until next season but, given he signed the pact prior to this season (and the fact New Jersey parted ways with Martin Brodeur this summer), the organization’s message is loud and clear:
We’re paying you a lot of money, and giving you unlimited opportunity for playing time.
To date, Schneider’s returns have been up and down. His overall numbers (7-6-2, .904 save percentage, 2.86 GAA) aren’t great, but he’s had a handful of strong performances (including Tuesday’s 23-save effort in a 3-1 win over Minnesota).
Some of that can be explained by the team playing in front of Schneider, which has been in a constant state of flux: key free agent acquisitions like Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat have been in and out of the lineup, and the Devils’ defense has been banged up with injuries to Bryce Salvador, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas.
There’s also the issue of Schneider’s untested backup, Keith Kinkaid, who’s never made an NHL start and has just 53 minutes of big-league experience. The plan is to eventually start Kinkaid but, to hear DeBoer explain it, that plan might not be executed soon — especially with some high-octane opponents on the schedule.
“We won the game, we got a great performance from Cory,” DeBoer said after beating Minnesota. “These next two teams we’re playing are elite offensive teams.
“With Washington’s forwards and Colorado’s forwards we’re going to have to do the good things we did last game in order to get the win, and be a lot better in a lot of different areas.”