The Vancouver Canucks need to trade Roberto Luongo, right? He's old, washed up, mentally unstable, carries a contract until infinity, and guess what, Cory Schneider is right there, banging on the door (although some would argue that it is Luongo who is banging on Schneider's door now). Luongo out, Schneider in equals one cup to soothe the rioters, right?
Wrong. Cory Schneider is the goalie in Vancouver who must go.
Roberto Luongo was brought in 2006 to end what Brian Burke called the "goalie graveyard" that was Vancouver. Between 1998 and 2006, 18 goalies played for the Canucks. None were successful for a prolonged period of time, and none could even compare to Luongo. Vancouver paid little for the trade, loosing only troubled power forward Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen, and the perm-a-backup Alex Auld. The only reason the trade was executed was for Luongo to become the Canucks starting goaltender, and that was reflected in the 4 year, $27 million dollar deal he signed after the trade. And Luongo ran with it. And the reason he ran with it was that there was no internal pressure for him to play great, because there was no one capable of taking the reins. Now I know hockey people say pressure from below makes your top players better, and normally I'd think that to be true, but not with Luongo. Luongo is special in that if he has even the slightest doubt in his mind about himself or that someone can do it better, those doubts will become true and another person will step in to do the job, better or worse, but if he has no option but to play his best he will. As Nike used as it's slogan for Canada at the WJC, Pressure is Power (which I think is a pretty terrible slogan for a bunch of kids) and for Luongo that pressure must be built from his own urge to win, not the necessity to win in case of being replaced. In his case, I think a back up option hinders, not helps, and so without Schneider, Luongo is better.
Cory Schneider, to every team in the league without fail, is more valuable in terms of return than Luongo. Take Toronto for example. The leafs most valuable asset is Jake Gardiner. No complaints with that? Good. The leafs second most valuable asset is their fifth overall draft pick in a weak year. Now then, would the Leafs ever give up either of these assets for Luongo? Hell no! But how about a franchise goaltender who has shown he can not only carry a team but has also done it in effectively the second most fishbowl like hockey market in the world? Think both (although, frankly, if the fifth overall pick and Gardiner are offered, who in hockey isn't touchable?). Luongo more likely is worth a middling first round pick or a decent prospect, think Tampa's tenth overall pick, or Nazem Kadri going back to Vancouver.
While Luongo's contract is cumbersome, debatably the worst in the league, but really, it fits with the Canucks lineup. Without Schneider, Luongo is just as necessary to the team's success as a Ryan Kesler or Alex Burrows. And his salary, while a little higher, reflects that. And the term, okay the term is bad, but can you blame a guy for asking for a little financial security? Also, Canucks fans seem to think that with Luongo gone, Schneider will take a pay cut just for the starting job. Wrong. Schneider will ask for Luongo's salary or higher, but will sign for lower on a short term contract. Then he will have a break out year and screw over the Canucks by asking for a ridiculous salary. Think about it Canuck's fans, Luongo for five and a bit, or Schneider for seven down the road. A salary like that can handicap a team (see: Gomez, Scott) whereas a contract like Luongo's can be smartly built into a contending teams cap (see: Vancouver Canucks).
Roberto Luongo is a winner. Olympic gold, and to some that says it all. He is the definition of a goalie of the present, and he has recent experience of being at the pinnacle of his sport, and that is what the Canucks are all about, winning now. In a few seasons (4,5) the Canucks will either be the Flames or the Edmonton Oilers of 2009. Old people with bad contracts. So for that reason they need an experienced goaltender of the present, not a rookie for the future.
To sum up my points, Luongo: more experience, winner, worse contract now but 2 years down the road?, less return from trade, while receiving similar quality goaltending. Schneider: less experience, better now, but not for long, huge return from trade, goalie of the future for any team. Luongo just needs a shot with the support of the city and without a "goalie of the future" breathing down his neck, and he will be great again.