It's a debate that's raged among hockey circles over the past several months, and the Vancouver Canucks find themselves right in the middle of it.
Roberto Luongo versus Cory Schneider.
The proven, grizzled veteran goalie or his talented 'backup' who's filled with potential and eager to step into the starter's role.
Though Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has been largely non-committal on whether he'll create some space in his team's crease by moving either netminder — despite signing Schneider to a new three-year, $12-million US deal this summer — something has to give.
When Montreal native Luongo declared it was time for him to move on from the Vancouver organization last month — he's already declared he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause — it sent a ripple effect throughout trade circles and rumour mills.
With that in mind, we want to know what you think. Who would you rather have, Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider?
The goods: His arrival in Vancouver in 2006 put to rest a period of instability for the Canucks in goal. Eighteen netminders had laced up their skates for the team since Kirk McLean left in 1998. The epitome of consistency, the 33-year-old has a 2.35 goals-against average in six seasons with the squad and sports a more than adequate .919 career save percentage. Fans may also remember Vancouver missed the playoffs by three points in 2005-06 — the year before the four-time all-star joined the squad — but has won its division five times since (including back-to-back Presidents' Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12), failing to make the post-season only once. Luongo is second on the league's active career shutout list with 60, is a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, and has collected 339 wins.
The knock: Despite his impressive regular season resumé, the former New York Islanders first-round draft pick has struggled to find consistency in the post-season, much to the chagrin of some of the Vancouver faithful. Even though he helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup final in 2010-11, his playoff run that year wasn't smooth. He posted two shutouts in the series against the eventual champion Boston Bruins, but also surrendered eight goals in Game 3 and was pulled for two other contests. He had a disappointing follow-up playoff campaign in 2011-12. In just two games (he gave way to Schneider afterwards) he posted a dismal 3.59 GAA. He also comes with a hefty price tag. He's got a whopping 10 years left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.3 million US that runs out when he'll be 43 years old. Wear and tear could start taking its effect, too, as he's logged a massive 41,690 minutes over his career.
The goods: Filled with potential and looks like a budding star. At age 26, the Marblehead, Mass., native has yet to enter his prime but has been a standout in his limited playing time. In just 68 NHL regular-season games, he's compiled a 38-17-4-4 record and a minute 2.24 GAA (including an incredible 1.97 GAA last year). His .937 save percentage last season was second only to the rejuvenated Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues. Whenever called upon in pressure situations, he's answered. Granted it's a small sample size, his playoff stats are outstanding: In eight career games, he has a .940 save percentage and a 1.91 GAA. His contract whets the appetite, too. Heading forward, he's got three years remaining at a manageable annual cap hit of $4 million.
The knock: Experience and small sample size. He's unproven and it's hard to say how he would respond if he was handed the full-time reins. He could thrive as his numbers might suggest, but he could also eventually fade off (see Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason). He'll also have a lot of pressure on his shoulders if Luongo is wearing a different jersey next year and there's no telling how he'd adjust to the increase in workload. In short, he is a gamble.
Post your comments below and start the debate!