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Tampa Bay Lightning goalie focus switching to Vancouver Canucks backup Cory Schneider

With the Lightning deciding to pass at the trade deadline on minor-league goaltender Ben Bishop — GM Steve Yzerman said he wasn't willing to give up a second-round draft pick — the search for a No. 1 was pushed into the summer.

The speculation is Tampa Bay will make a run at Canucks backup Cory Schneider.

The Lightning, with two first-round picks in the June draft and likely four in the second, have the ammunition to make a rich offer for the pending restricted free agent. And Schneider has an appealing resume.

Unlike Bishop, Schneider has been full time the past two seasons in the NHL. He has played just 49 regular-season games in that span, but he has been a winner as Roberto Luongo's backup and soaked in the harsh demands of the league and what it takes to succeed.

It was the lack of such a background that was Yzerman's red flag with Bishop.

In 59 career games entering Saturday, Schneider was 32-14-4 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He also is stuck behind Luongo, who with 10 more years on his contract that pays $6.714 million for the next six, is not going anywhere.

Schneider, who makes $900,000 this season, can be signed to a much more reasonable deal, but perhaps even more important, he is the right age.

The goalie turns 26 on March 18. That gives him plenty of time to grow along with Lightning players such as Steven Stamkos, 22; Keith Aulie, 22; Victor Hedman, 21; Brian Lee, 24; Brendan Mikkelson, 24; Teddy Purcell, 26; and Cory Conacher, 22, when he finally gets the call from AHL Norfolk.

Is Schneider absolutely the way Yzerman is planning to go? Obviously, nothing is in stone in March when you're talking about a transaction that might not happen until the last weekend in June at the draft.

But Schneider likely has enough of the aptitude and experience Yzerman wants, and he still has upside.

If it's not yet a match, it's certainly one worth considering.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie focus switching to Vancouver Canucks backup Cory Schneider 03/03/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 3, 2012 9:28pm]
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