After Roberto Luongo trade, what is Canucks' plan?

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks went from having Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider to having neither one of them in less than a year. That was unexpected.

One year ago the Vancouver Canucks had the mother of all goaltending controversies.

With Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider on the same team they not only had two starters, but two of the best in the entire league at the position. It was pretty much assumed that at some point one of them was going to have to go.

Less than a year later, they're both gone.

First it was Schneider in a shocking draft-day trade that sent the former first-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 draft. The Canucks used that pick on forward Bo Horvat.

Then, on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the 2014 trade deadline, it was Luongo going back to the Florida Panthers, the team Vancouver acquired him from prior to the 2006-07 season, in return for goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias.

Of all the scenarios that seemed possible for this situation a year ago this ... well, this was not one of them.

The trade of Luongo ends what had been a wild seven-plus year run in Vancouver, a tenure that featured some drama, non-stop trade rumors toward the end, a lot of wins, and a team that was one Game 7 on home ice away from winning what would have been the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

And now it's over.

A Luongo trade has seemingly been in the works for more than a year now, but it was almost assume that when it finally happened the Canucks would simply insert Schneider into the No. 1 role and continue to have one of the better goalies in the league. Instead, at least for the time being, they will move on with Markstrom and Eddie Lack.

On one hand, they are both young, cheap, talented, and have potential. They're also completely unproven and as we've seen time and time again with young goalies, those guys can be complete wild cards. Yes, Lack has been outstanding in his limited action this season, and it's matched up well with the numbers he posted in the AHL before joining the Canucks, but it's such a small sampling of games that it's almost impossible to project. General managers and scouts, even the best ones, get fooled by young goalies constantly.

Markstrom has been on the radar for quite a while as one of the top goalie prospects in the league but has disappointed in his early NHL career.

Along with the future uncertainty in net, there is also the potential cap recapture penalties the Canucks could face down the line if/when Luongo retires before the end of his current deal. Like, say, if he were to retire in 2021.

Good luck with all of that.

But if this was going to be the ultimate endgame for Vancouver, what was the point of trading Schneider at last year's draft? Did they view Bo Horvat (or any other prospect at that pick) so highly that it was worth trading what was supposed to be their long-term answer in net? Especially if there was still a chance that Luongo was going to be leaving town?

It all seems very suspect, almost as if there was never really a plan in place and the team just backed its way into a complete rebuild.

In the aftermath of all of this the Canucks are left with a smoldering crater in their crease as the team turned its two starting goalies -- again, two of the best in the league -- into a top-10 pick, a disappointing (to this point) goalie prospect, and a third-liner. All in less than a year.

With Ryan Kesler seemingly on his way out of town -- if not before the trade deadline on Wednesday, almost certainly before the start of next season -- and the Sedin twins looking as if they are starting to break down, both physically and in terms of their point production, it appears the Canucks' championship window is in the process of slamming shut.

It's just a matter of how long it's going to take for them to rebuild the organization into something that opens it back up.

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