On June 30, 2013, the Vancouver Canucks made a franchise-altering trade when they sent Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth-overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. General manager Mike Gillis then used the pick to select London Knights center, Bo Horvat.
While the initial reaction to the trade was the Canucks didn’t get enough back, it is safe to say almost 10 years later that, Vancouver came up from the draft floor at the Prudential Center like bandits. Here is a look at how Horvat’s and Schneider’s careers have played out since the trade.
A Goalie Controversy in Vancouver
From the 2010-11 season to the 2012-13 season, the Canucks had one of, if not the best, goaltending duo in the NHL. Led by Hall of Famer Roberto Luongo and Schneider, Vancouver held a record of 131-56-25 and captured two Presidents’ Trophies, Three Northwest Division banners and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl in 2011. The duo also captured the William Jennings Trophy during the 2010-11 season, given to the team that allows the least goals that year. On paper, everything looked great, but in reality, some major issues were bubbling to the surface.
After Schneider replaced Luongo in net during the 2012 Playoffs, the Canucks decided to name him the starter for the 2012-13 season. He played well, recording 17 wins in 30 games, including five shutouts. Unfortunately, the Canucks suffered a similar fate that season to the previous year, falling to a lower seed in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2012-13 season was a tough one as trade rumours swirled all season around Luongo. With the emergence of Schneider, the Canucks tried to move him during the campaign but could not, largely thanks to his massive contract. This led to the infamous quote, “My contract sucks,” when he was asked about not being traded in April 2013. Vancouver needed to make a move in the offseason and did with a shocking trade at the draft in New Jersey.
When Gary Bettman walked up to the microphone and said, “I think you’re gonna wanna hear this,” and announced that Schneider was now a Devil, everyone was shocked. As mentioned, the first reaction was that New Jersey walked away with a steal as they just found the goaltender to supersede Martin Brodeur, who was coming to the end of his NHL career. Also, there was the fact that after a year of trying to trade Luongo, the Canucks decided to keep him and instead trade what Canuck fans thought was their goaltender of the future. Regardless, the trade was made, and now Vancouver had to make a decision on who they would choose with the ninth-overall selection.
With the ninth pick, there were plenty of options for the Canucks. They could have selected either defencemen Josh Morrissey or Darnell Nurse, or gone with high-profile centers in Max Domi or Curtis Lazar. Instead, they went with Horvat, a two-way center who had helped the London Knights make back-to-back Memorial Cup Championships.
During his draft season, Horvat was considered one of the biggest risers in the draft rankings. He was dominant in the faceoff dot, could play special teams and scored 33 goals in 67 games. During the 2013 Playoffs, he won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award given out to the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) playoff MVP and recorded five points in five games during the Memorial Cup. While there were some areas of improvement in his speed, he looked like a star in the making that could become a key member of the Canucks for years to come.
Cory Schneider and the Devils
Schneider had a strong start to his Devils’ career as, during the 2013-14 season, he finished with a 1.97 goals-against average (GAA). Unfortunately, the Devils had some major offensive issues that season, only scoring 197 goals, which led to him missing the playoffs. For reference, they did outscore Vancouver that season by one goal and had five more points than them at the end of the campaign.
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Things got better for Schneider over the next couple of seasons, as from 2014-15 through 2017-18, he recorded 90 wins, a .917% save percentage and a GAA of 2.50. His best year by far was 2015-16 when he recorded a career-high 27 wins, which led him to receive Vezina and Hart votes. Despite his strong play during these seasons, New Jersey missed the playoffs in all but the 2017-18 campaign thanks to an inability to score goals.
Unfortunately for Schneider, injuries derailed his career. He had hip surgery during the 2018 offseason and has been bouncing between the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) since. Here is what THW’s Devils beat writer Kristy Flannery had to say about his time with New Jersey.
“When I look back on Cory Schneider’s time in New Jersey the first word that comes to mind is unfortunate. During that time the team was completely out of sync. During his early years as a Devil he played quite well in the crease, and during the 2015-16 season received votes for the Vezina Trophy [finishing sixth]. When he was at his best, the team desperately struggled in front of him, and things flipped flopped towards the end of his time with the organization. Of course, it can be argued New Jersey wasted some of his best years playing with a lackluster team, but that’s hockey. He dealt with a hip injury and a pair of groin injuries. It’s hard for a goaltender to get back to form after dealing with injuries to that extent and it really was unfortunate how things played out.”
Kristy Flannery – The Hockey Writers
Schneider now finds himself with the New York Islanders franchise playing mostly with the Bridgeport Islanders in the AHL. The good news is he looks to be doing well and even earned a callup during the 2021-22 season, where he recorded his first NHL win since 2019. He played an important role for Vancouver during their Stanley Cup window, so it is great to see that he has overcome the adversity he has faced and found a second wind in his career.
Bo Horvat and the Canucks
It didn’t take long for Horvat to make an impact on the Canucks, as after one final year in the OHL, he made the jump to the pros. After a five-game stint in the AHL, he made his NHL debut on Nov. 14, 2014, and never looked back. His first career goal came against Anaheim in his seventh NHL game, while his first multiple-point night happened the very next game after he recorded three assists vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. At the end of his rookie campaign, he had 25 points, threw 69 hits and won over 50 percent of his faceoffs in 68 games. His strong season even led to him receiving two fifth-place Calder Trophy votes and helped the Canucks clinch a playoff spot and a 101-point season.
Horvat shined in his first playoffs with Vancouver as he was tied for the team lead with four points in six games despite playing fourth-line minutes. He also won over 60 percent of his draws and recorded eight hits. Despite the Canucks losing in the first round, he was a bright spot and showed Vancouver that they could possibly have a star in the making on their hands.
Over the next few seasons, Horvat established himself as one of the NHL’s top faceoff men, winning over 4,100 faceoffs between 2015-16 and 2019-20 seasons. He also was a consistent point generator as he never dropped below 40 points and only had one season below 20 goals. Unfortunately, though, this was a dark time for the Canucks franchise as they failed to make the playoffs for four straight seasons.
Before the 2019-20 season, Horvat was named captain after Henrik Sedin’s retirement. This was a well-deserved honour as he showed the leadership qualities needed to be a captain at the NHL level, including never dropping his competitive level despite the score. After posting 53 points in 69 games, he helped the Canucks clinch their first playoff spot since his rookie season by defeating the Minnesota Wild during the play-in series.
Horvat finally got a chance to show he could be a big-time playoff performer during the 2020 bubble playoffs. With a strong team surrounding him, he helped the Canucks win their first playoff series since 2011, recording 10 goals and 12 points in 17 games. His play was so strong that only three players had more goals than him by the end of the playoffs, with all of them playing at least 23 games.
At the time of writing, Horvat has become one of the hottest goal scorers in the NHL. After a 31-goal season in 2021-22, he has started the 2022-23 season with 16 goals in his first 20 games. He is currently on pace to break Pavel Bure’s single-season goal-scoring record of 60 and should be in line for a massive raise come the season’s end. That is if he is still with Vancouver by the end of the season.
Vancouver Clear Trade Winners
While Vancouver may have been able to get more for Schneider, considering his high trade value, they clearly won the trade. Horvat has developed into a top-10 centerman in the league and could walk away with the Rocket Richard Trophy if he keeps up his scoring pace. Looking back, it is hard to argue that this trade wasn’t the best by the Vancouver Canucks over the last decade.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.