Cory Schneider went from unseating Roberto Luongo in Vancouver to being the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur after Sunday's shocking trade to the Devils.  (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

Cory Schneider went from unseating Roberto Luongo in Vancouver to being the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur after Sunday’s shocking trade to the Devils. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

The New Jersey Devils didn’t just host the 2013 NHL Draft on Sunday, the owned it, at least from a goaltending perspective.

The Devils started with the shocking acquisition of Cory Schneider for the ninth overall pick early in the draft, a move that created shockwaves on both sides of the continent by affecting the futures of both sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur in New Jersey and, perhaps even more spectacularly Roberto Luongo back in Vancouver.

After seven rounds that should quiet some questions about the future of Canadian goaltending – starting with Memorial Cup champion Zachary Fucale six picks into the second round, the first five goalies selected have a Maple Leaf on their passport – the Devils again stole the show when the 41-year-old Brodeur came down to announce their final pick: His son Anthony Brodeur.

It was a touching, if not somewhat predictable, moment for the Devils’ legend. But as the feel good nature of Brodeur’s post-pick press conference was interrupted by questions about Schneider (video below), it was the real passing of the goaltending torch in New Jersey had occurred six rounds earlier. Brodeur, who called Schneider a “top-5 goalie” in the NHL but said he won’t give up the No.1 job he’s held for 20-plus years and three Stanley Cups without a fight, admitted the move was a “shock.”

If Brodeur was surprised by the trade, imagine how Schneider and Luongo felt.

Neither saw it coming.

Neither were informed of it until it happened.

Neither had heard from the Canucks that it was even possible.

Now it’s a reality, one Luongo is still trying to wrap his head around, deferring interviews as he tried to soak in a return to a city and team he said goodbye to. For more than a year, Luongo expected to be traded after losing the No.1 job to Schneider two games into the 2012 playoffs, but after the Canucks balked at the return offered at last year’s draft, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement made it even harder to move Luongo’s 12-year, $64-million contract, which still has nine seasons remaining.

A day earlier, as reports Schneider was being shopped by the Canucks first emerged, Luongo told InGoal the possibility of staying “completely caught me off guard.” Asked about the same possibility after a season that again ended with him replaced by Schneider two games into the playoffs, Luongo indicated the ship had long ago sailed on his return to Vancouver.

Luongo Retro Ridley Mask-1

Luongo has to wrap his head around coming back to the Canucks after preparing for more than a year to move on.

Now he’s being asked to come back, a return so shocking the Canucks had to dispatch owner Francesco Aquilini to Luongo’s Florida home to talk him into it. Schneider admitted it wouldn’t be easy for Luongo to return to Vancouver, and didn’t always sound positive it would even happen, saying in one interview he was “going to be a a great goalie no matter where he plays.”

Schneider said during a conference call later in Sunday evening that he’d talked to Luongo several times over two days.

“He’s been prepared to move on for a year now and to have that taken away and you have to sort of reset and re-adjust, it’s not easy to do,” Schneider said, reiterating he never saw his trade coming. “He’s been a resilient guy and he’s been through a lot. He’s been counted out and he’s been knocked down and he’s always gotten back up. I don’t know what his intentions are, or his mindset right now, but having worked with him for three years now, I just know he’s a great goalie and whether that’s in Vancouver or anywhere else, I think he’s going to play his hardest and be his best, and I think that’s what everyone expects out of him.”

It’s a lot to ask given all that has gone on.

“I would assume he’s going to be the guy obviously, but you have to keep in mind how he felt about this and where he is at and if he is comfortable resuming that role that he’s had,” said Schneider, who now has to move while also managing a potentially contentious shrinking of goalie equipment in the NHL. “After today anything can happen.”

On Sunday it did.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is a finalist for both the Vezina Trophy and EA Sports NHL14 cover (Photo by Clint Trahan)

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is a finalist for both the Vezina Trophy and EA Sports NHL14 cover (Photo by Clint Trahan)

Smith, Bobrovsky Deals Also in Play

Despite the attention garnered by the Luongo-Schneider-Brodeur drama, there were a couple of other big names in play at the NHL Draft.

By the time it ended, both appeared destined to stick with their current teams.

That was the plan all along for Mike Smith, whose only reluctance to re-up with the Phoenix Coyotes centered around not wanting to end up playing out a new contract somewhere else – like maybe Quebec City. That reluctance to commit to a franchise in limbo – Tuesday appears to be the latest, and perhaps last, in a long list of deadlines to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix – eased as General Manager Don Maloney, goaltending coach Sean Burke, and head coach Dave Tippett all re-signed since the season ended, and it became clearer the team would either stay or move to Seattle, making it easier for Smith to agree to terms on a deal the Arizona Republic reported was worth $34-million over six years.

“That was the main turning point in the whole negotiations,” Smith told the Arizona Republic.

As for Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy one season after being traded away by the Philadelphia Flyers and changing elements of his game, there were reports he had joined Schneider on the trade market during the draft. But that may have simply been the Columbus Blue Jackets calling his agent’s bluff amid reports Bobrovsky would soon receive an offer up to $10-million a season in his naive Russia. In the end, Bobrovsky wants to play in the NHL – at least until he adds a Stanley Cup to the Vezina in his trophy case – and by Sunday night it appeared he would continue to do so, with at the Columbus Dispatch reporting a two-year deal worth around $5 million per season.

(Update: Reports of a signed deal Monday morning indicated Bobrovksy is getting closer to $6-million a year)

Among the interesting tidbits to emerge amid the rumblings surrounding Bobrovksy were reports the Blue Jackets had been in touch with Tim Thomas, who has remained quiet since sitting out the final year of his contract with the Bruins to spend more time with his family. While Columbus is now a stretch, the possibility of Thomas returning from a one-season hiatus may not be.

InGoal has been told by two NHL goaltending coaches that their team was contacted by Thomas about a return.

About the only sure bet is it won’t be in Vancouver. Of course no one expected Luongo to still be there either.

The Actual Draft

Just as Corey Crawford winning the Stanley Cup didn’t change the issues surrounding goaltending in Canada, neither did the selection of five straight Canadian stoppers to open the 2013 NHL Draft. There remains a development gap, one that Hockey Canada is working to fill with a national goaltending program. But it does indicate the word “crisis” was overused when describing the state of Canadian keepers.

Below is a list of the goaltenders selected this season, courtesy of NHL.com. In addition to Fucale, who won the Memorial Cup just before his 18th birthday this spring, the list is topped by fellow hosers Tristan Jarry, who some feel may be the best of the bunch but didn’t get to show it often enough behind Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Broissoit in junior, under-18 gold medal winner Philippe Desrosiers, and Eric Comrie, who may also have gone sooner if not for a hip injury that ended his season prematurely:

Round: 2
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
2 6 36 MTL ZACHARY FUCALE G CAN 6′ 1″ 181 QMJHL HALIFAX
2 14 44 PIT TRISTAN JARRY G CAN 6′ 1″ 183 WHL EDMONTON
2 24 54 DAL P. DESROSIERS G CAN 6′ 1″ 182 QMJHL RIMOUSKI
2 29 59 WPG ERIC COMRIE G CAN 6′ 0″ 167 WHL TRI-CITY

Round: 3
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
3 2 63 COL SPENCER MARTIN G CAN 6′ 2″ 198 OHL MISSISSAUGA
3 9 70 NYI EAMON MCADAM G USA 6′ 2″ 188 USHL WATERLOO
3 17 78 OTT MARCUS HOGBERG G SWE 6′ 4″ 205 SWEDEN-JR. LINKOPING JR.

Round: 4
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
4 1 92 FLA EVAN COWLEY G CAN 6′ 3″ 182 NAHL WICHITA FALLS
4 8 99 NSH JUUSE SAROS G FIN 5′ 10″ 178 FINLAND-JR. HPK JR.
4 15 106 NYI S. WILLIAMS G USA 6′ 1″ 194 WCHA MINNESOTA STATE
4 26 117 SJS F. BERGVIK G SWE 6′ 1″ 189 SWEDEN-JR. FROLUNDA JR.

Round: 5
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
5 3 124 TBL KRISTERS GUDLEVSKIS G LVA 6′ 4″ 190 RUSSIA-JR. RIGA 2
5 8 129 BUF CALVIN PETERSEN G USA 6′ 2″ 183 USHL WATERLOO
5 25 146 LAK PATRIK BARTOSAK G CZE 6′ 1″ 187 WHL RED DEER

Round: 6
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
6 11 162 PHI MERRICK MADSEN G USA 6′ 4″ 177 HIGH-NH PROCTOR ACADEMY
6 12 163 PHX BRENDAN BURKE G USA 6′ 3″ 176 WHL PORTLAND
6 19 170 NYR M. SKAPSKI G CAN 6′ 2″ 186 WHL KOOTENAY
6 21 172 TOR ANTOINE BIBEAU G CAN 6′ 2″ 207 QMJHL PEI

Round: 7
Rnd Pick Overall Team Player Pos Country Height Weight Amateur League Amateur Team
7 19 200 MIN ALEXANDRE BELANGER G CAN 6′ 0″ 170 QMJHL ROUYN-NORANDA
7 22 203 NSH JANNE JUVONEN G FIN 6′ 1″ 183 FINLAND-JR. PELICANS JR.
7 27 208 NJD ANTHONY BRODEUR G USA 5′ 10″ 177 HIGH-MN SHATTUCK-ST.MARYS PREP

While the last pick stole the headlines in New Jersey (video below), don’t overlook the sixth-round selection of Brendan Burke by the Phoenix Coyotes as a similar feel-good story. Burke’s dad, Sean, is the Coyotes goaltending coach. In the end, there were nine Canadian goalies among the 21 selected (Comrie lives in the US but is already on the short list for Canada’s World Junior team this season), along with six Americans, two Finns, two Swedes, one from the Czech Republic, and a mostly unknown goalie from Latvia. And while many, including the 6-foot-4 Latvian, Kristers Gudlevskis, were big, there was certainly a return of the “undersized” goalie at this year’s draft, with four listed at 6-foot or less, and seven more checking in at “just” 6-foot-1.

The smallest included Anthony Brodeur, who is 5-foot-10. Like the Draft itself, we’ll close with a look at his big moment:

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