Lou Lamoriello did his best to make Cory Schneider’s new 7-year, $42-million contract extension feel like the dawn of a new era for New Jersey Devils hockey.
“Cory’s not here to replace Marty. Cory’s here to establish his own identity,” said Lamoriello, as the Devils President/GM/Ruler Of All He Surveys announced the contract on Wednesday. Schneider’s deal kicks in during the 2015-16 season, as he has one more year at $4 million on his previous deal.
“We go from one great goaltender to another.”
The spectre of Brodeur haunts the organization. Not in the sense that anyone expects Schneider, 28, to replicate the Hall of Fame-worthy success Brodeur had in New Jersey for 20 years. But rather that he’s continuing the model the Devils perfected with Brodeur between the pipes: Success is created starting in the crease, and then built out.
Schneider said it’s all about “continuing a tradition of great goaltending in New Jersey,” and that he respects “what Marty has done for this organization.”
When Lamoriello traded the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks for Schneider, he knew he was acquiring a goalie that could be Brodeur’s successor. He’d have a full season to evaluate Schneider, and liked what he saw.
“Timing is everything in life,” said Lamoriello.
In 45 games with the Devils, he posted a .921 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA. His 16-15-12 record wasn’t stellar, but the win total was suffocated under the Devils’ lack of shootout success. Schneider was 0-8 in the shootout.
The key for Schneider in signing his new deal: That the Devils wanted to commit long term, and that the crease was his next season and beyond.
“That was a part of it. You don’t do this kind of deal if they didn’t believe I was the guy or if I thought I wasn’t going to be the guy,” he said. “They believed in me. Had confidence in me.”
Evaluating Schneider’s new contract comes down to whether one believes he’s a proven starter. If so, then $6 million against the cap over seven years is in line with what starters receive in the NHL. It’s less than Carey Price, the same as Corey Crawford and slightly more than Semyon Varlamov and Mike Smith – although the former two are on six-year deals, and the later two are on 5-year deals.
The bottom line for the Devils, when it comes to term, is that they wanted stability in goal as the rest of the team transitions from a veteran group (for at least the next two years) to one led by Schneider, a cadre of young defensemen and players like Adam Henrique up front.
After being spoiled by having the same goalie for 20 years, one understands why Lamoriello wanted the next guy for at least eight – and signed him well before his UFA status came around next summer.
“The CBA has changed the thought process with reference to key players,” said Lamoriello.
So Schneider was signed, officially signaling the end of an era for the Devils. But Lamoriello didn’t agree that “sadness” was the emotion he was feeling.
“Marty will always be a Devil,” he said of Brodeur, who is still looking for a new home for next season. “[Brodeur] was excited for the organization when we acquired Cory because he respected Cory so much as a player.
“He’s had a great career. He’ll always be a Devil. Just in a different way.”