VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks have signed Cory Schneider to a new contract that will give the young goaltender a chance to prove himself in the NHL and possibly open the door for a future trade.
Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo begins a US$64-million, 12-year contract next season. It's unlikely Schneider will want to play in Luongo's shadow that long.
"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," said Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman.
"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 potential starting goaltender. We will cross that bridge when we come to it."
Schneider, who was a restricted free agent, signed a two-year contract worth $900,000 a season. At 24, he's seven years younger than Luongo.
Schneider was Vancouver's first pick in the 2004 draft. He has played three seasons with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
He was the AHL goaltender of the year in 2008-09 and led Manitoba to the Calder Cup final before losing to the Hershey Bears. Last season he had a 35-23-2 record with the Moose, a 2.51 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and four shutouts.
Schneider's NHL exposure has been limited. The six-foot-two, 200-pound native of Marblehead, Mass., has played just 10 games with the Canucks over the last two seasons. He has a 2-5-1 record and allowed 25 goals.
"While he has clearly made tremendous strides, he has yet to establish himself as anything more than a top goaltender at the American League level and a player capable of playing in the NHL," said Gilman. "We feel that this contract will bridge the next portion of his career."
Playing more games in the NHL would showcase Schneider's skills.
"We operate in a system where trades happen," said Gilman. "Those trades are born out of the competition that occurs while other teams watch and have scouts in attendance.
"No one knows where a player will finish his career."
With Schneider as a backup, the Canucks hope to reduce Luongo's workload. Gilman said Schneider could play ''at least 15 games.''
''We certainly look at Cory as a player who will play more games than prior backups have under our tenure with Roberto, as it stood in the past,'' he said.
Backup Andrew Raycroft played in just nine games for the Canucks last season.
Schneider's signing also means Raycroft's days in Vancouver are numbered. Raycroft agreed to a one-year deal worth $500,000 with the Canucks last season.
"I don't know if we will necessarily have three goaltenders on one-way contracts," said Gilman. "There is a lot of time between now and the start of the season. Many things can happen, including injuries.
"We will have to wait and see how things unfold for Andrew."
The Canucks also announced the signing of 2009 draft picks Anton Rodin and Peter Andersson.
Rodin, 19, played in 36 games for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League last season. The five-foot-11, 174-pound forward from Stockholm played at the world junior championship, finishing among the top 10 scorers with 10 points (3-7-10) in six games.
Andersson, 19, spent the 2009-10 season with Vastra Frolunda HC Goteborg. In 21 games, the six-foot-three, 194-pound defenceman recorded five points (1-4-5) and four penalty minutes.