Schneider earns one-way ticket

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

Goalie Cory Schneider has his one-way ticket. Where in the NHL it'll eventually take him remains to be seen.

But one thing is certain: the most valuable player for the Manitoba Moose the last two seasons isn't likely to see a minor-league net in Winnipeg again.

Schneider has re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks, agreeing to a one-way, two-year deal that will pay him $900,000 per season to be Roberto Luongo's backup -- unless the Canucks trade him.

"It's a great opportunity in Vancouver," Schneider, fresh off a game of golf with his dad, told the Sun from his home in Boston, Wednesday. "You've got to start somewhere. You don't just jump in and play 60 games off the hop."

No, that'll likely be left for Luongo to do, as his 12-year, $64-million contract kicks in next season.

Schneider, the AHL's goalie of the year in 2008-09, has yet to prove himself as an NHLer, having played just 10 games over the last two seasons and putting up a 2-5-1 record.

The Canucks are suggesting the 24-year-old, first-round draft pick (2004) could play some 20 games per season under this deal.

But Luongo's presence, and contract, mean Schneider won't likely become an NHL starter in Vancouver.

"I don't think it's any stretch to say Roberto is the goaltender that will backstop this team to as great a height as we are going to achieve," Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman told the Canadian Press. "Time will tell what happens with Cory. It is conceivable that at some stage down the road a team will come to us and view Cory as a starting goaltender. We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

Schneider, who would have become a restricted free agent this summer, says this deal could be his stepping stone to bigger and better things.

"It's a bit of a bridge to the next phase of my career," he said. "If it goes well and things go my way, it could lead to an opportunity somewhere else."

As for leaving the Moose, Schneider called it "bittersweet."

"Winnipeg was my home for three years," he said. "I've developed a connection to the community, the fans and the organization. They treated me well. I really enjoyed it, especially my last two years."


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