As the panic around T.J. Brodie’s injury begins to subside, the Calgary Flames made a smart little move today. They signed goaltender Nick Schneider to an entry-level deal.
The 18-year-old Schneider’s deal is presumably a three-year pact. He’ll be returning to the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers shortly.
The deal’s pretty smart for a few reasons.
First, the Flames fill an age-gap issue. The team didn’t draft a goalie this year, presumably because they traded all their picks for Dougie Hamilton (and to move up into the end of the second round to grab Oliver Kylington), so they only ended up drafting five players – focusing on their thin defensive group. By taking advantage of a CBA quirk that allows teams to draft unchosen players before the CHL season opens – as is my understanding – the Flames get an 18-year-old netminder in a good league without giving up anything. He joins the 19-year-old Mason McDonald and the 21-year-old Jon Gillies in the pipeline. Based on this move, the Flames don’t really need to use a pick in the upcoming draft on a goaltender, as I thought they might based on skipping goalies this year. (They typically draft a goalie every couple years so they have one in the developmental system outside of pro.)
And since Schneider is 18 and was one of the youngest players in the draft – he turned 18 in July – the Flames basically get a couple years of development before he even needs to turn pro and start his contract rolling. As a 1997 birthday, under CHL rules this season is Schneider’s 18-year-old year, so he won’t hit his 20-year-old season (when his contract starts rolling) until 2017-18.
With Jon Gillies and various others off the ice so far during camp, Schneider’s gotten a ton of time in with Calgary’s goalie coaches. They must like what they’ve seen. He’s a free asset, and one that doesn’t start counting against their 50 contracts limit for another two seasons.