Schneider content to wait

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

He's a former first-round pick and one of the Vancouver Canucks' top prospects.

But with Roberto Luongo signing a 12-year contract extension this off-season, Cory Schneider's chances of becoming the Canucks starting goaltender any time soon have vanished.

"You have to look at it from their perspective; they had a chance to lock up the best goalie in the league in his prime, so they had to do it," Schneider said before starting against the Oilers in last night's final preseason game at Rexall Place.

"I know that's nothing against me. Louie is a fantastic goalie. Obviously, the long-term picture for me is a little cloudy, but the short-term goal right now is to make the team this year and help us win games. I'm not looking too far down the road."

Only a major injury to the four-time all-star would open the door for Schneider to become Vancouver's top puck-stopper.

"For the most part, I felt pretty good in camp," Schneider said.

"I wasn't terribly happy with my last start against Calgary, but I think the two games before that went well, and I've been feeling pretty good in practices. I'm just looking to rebound here and have one last good start."

Selected 26th overall by the Canucks at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the native of Marblehead, Mass., was pegged to one day take over the Canucks' crease.

After an outstanding career at Boston College, he went on to star in the American Hockey League with the Manitoba Moose.

Last season Schneider was named the AHL's top goaltender and backstopped the Moose to the Calder Cup final.

He's in a battle with Andrew Raycroft to be Luongo's understudy this season.

"Both goalies have made the decision tough for us," said Canucks assistant coach Ryan Walter.

"Cory went so deep into the AHL playoffs and had a spectacular year. We know what Cory can do, he's come into camp and worked hard.

"That's the decision that management is going to have to make. It's not going to be easy. He deserves to be here, but it's up to what's best for his journey."

Barring an injury to Luongo, the Canucks are looking for their backup to play around 15 games this season to lighten the load on their star -- especially considering Luongo is a strong candidate to earn the top job with Team Canada when the Olympics open in Vancouver in February.

"It's always interesting with Louie, because he wants to play them all, he's such a competitor," Walter said.


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