There he is folks, my wish for the opening night starting goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks next year, Cory Schneider. It is no secret that the Blackhawks are weak between the pipes. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery are pretty much the same guy. Both are capable of playing good for about 3 to 5 games only to get pulled. I don’t think Crawford is the goalie the Blackhawks have been hoping for. He is far too inconsistent and Ray Emery is not a long term solution either.
Schneider will be a restricted free agent this summer and one of the top prizes on the market if the Vancouver Canucks decide to let him go. Schneider will demand a salary of at least 5 million dollars a year. The Canucks are already have the fragile Roberto Luongo under contract, at a 5.3 million dollar cap hit, for the next 10 seasons. If the Canucks want to keep Schneider they will have to trade Luongo. I find it hard to believe anybody would want to take on that contract for a goalie who wets himself on the biggest stage.
The Blackhawks will have the cap space to pursue Schneider this summer if they choose. They are currently 3.8 million dollars under the cap. Over 5 million dollars will come off the books when the contracts of Emery, Sami Lepisto, Sean O’Donnell, Jamal Mayers, Andrew Brunette and Brandon Bollig expire after this season. That gives the Hawks nearly 9 million dollars in cap space. If you can trade both Niklas Hjalmarrson and Crawford you can free up another 5.1 million dollars. Obviously you wouldn’t need Crawford any more if you sign Schneider. The Blackhawks can move him fairly easily if they needed to. He can still be a solid goalie and has a very reasonable cap hit of 2.6 million. It isn’t a secret that Stan Bowman would love to move Hjammer and his 3.5 million dollar salary. With the emergence of Dylan Olsen, Hjalmarrson is expendable.
These two moves will give the Blackhawks over 14 million dollars in cap space next summer. That is plenty of money to make a run at Cory Schneider and still have plenty of money to fill in some other needs. You can still offer contracts to guys like Jamal Mayers and Johnny Oduya and make other small moves. Young players like Brandon Saad, Alexander Salak, Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri can fill in other holes at a low cost. Schneider can solidify the goaltending position for years to come and hurt a Western Conference rival at the same time.