If the NHL decided to set the draft order based on how the standings sit today, the Colorado Avalanche would pick 29th overall. After years of being near the top of the draft, this is a spot where Avalanche fans should get used to picking for the next while. At MHH, we are going to spend time profiling players who might fall in that general area - and a few that might be a stretch, but with how crazy the NHL Draft has become, you never know who will be available. Today, we’ll break down the game of Brandon Wheat Kings defender Braden Schneider.
If he development continues on the path it has so far, Schneider could add his name to a long list of players who have gone through the Wheat Kings system and succeeded at the NHL level. Mark Stone, Matt Calvert, Ryan Pulock, Ivan Provorov, and Nolan Patrick* are all players who have been churned out by the Western Canadian powerhouse, succeeding in Brandon before heading to the NHL to carve out their careers.
Schneider could very well be no different. Brandon gets young teens and turns them into quality young men. Schneider is no different. His character and leadership on and off the ice are first class, which has encouraged Team Canada to add him to their international team roster and what earned him an invitation to the WJC camp last year. His leadership translates on to the ice with his solid all around defensive game, high IQ, and he has earned the respect around the league for it. He plays against the best and thrives against the best.
While his defense and transition game are his bread and butter, Schneider has learned to chip in offensively, as well. Jumping in to the line up right after his bantam draft, Schneider put up 1 goal and 22 points in 66 games his very first season, then took a solid step forward and potted 8 goals and 24 points in 58 games the following year. This past season, even with the shortened schedule, he hit 7 goals and 42 points in 60 games played. On the international stage, he posted 2 goals and 3 points for the U-18 Canada team last year, netting one of the two goals in a short-handed situation.
What we know about him
First and foremost, Schneider is a very smart hockey player. He sees the ice very well, making sound, unflashy-but-effective decisions. Defensively, he keeps everything to the outside and uses his intelligence to make the right play more often than not. He has great gap control, sufficiently ending plays with speed and decisive action while gaining possession of the puck.
Don’t let his big frame fool you into thinking he’s a slow mover, either. His feet are quick, and he uses that to take advantage of unsuspecting players. He has a good amount of hitting ability and a sturdiness that keeps oncoming players guessing on what he might do until it’s too late.
Schneider is also an elite transition machine. While the Brandon squad this year is still growing, Schneider has been the transition king for them. He makes smart on-tape passes with ease, finding the forwards while they remain in full stride to keep the pace of the play alive. He’s a sneaky passer too, sometimes looking one way and passing another, showing his vision on the ice. He uses the open ice to his advantage, and skates well with the puck.
Once in the offensive zone, he uses the open ice well and will skate into it to take shots. He has a heavy but accurate wrist shot. He’s smart when he activated in the offensive zone, letting his team mates set up, he can dictate the pace of play and see the play develop around him. He hold on to the puck very well and use his accurate passing to his advantage.
Where can he improve
While Schneider is excellent defensively, he sometimes stops moving his feet — something he’ll get burned for if he makes the NHL. Adding some creativity to his offensive would be nice to see, as well; he makes plays quickly and correctly, but can be a bit predictable. I think with the pro structure in place and forwards helping out in the defensive zone will give him that opportunity, increasing the chances of a turn over.
What others are saying about him
“Somewhat an older-school type defender, Schneider isn’t going to win you games with three point nights nor will he lose you games. He’s very sturdy in his own end and displays fantastic gap control and enough physicality to bump you off the puck. He’s got great poise with the puck and doesn’t make rushed decisions. He’s not fast, but he’s got an inept ability to keep the feet moving and find the soft pockets and set-up from the back end. He’s got a good shot and has some mid to high-end passing ability, but it’s his work without the puck and in his own end that makes him special. He may be a safer pick, but there is nothing wrong with that. He’s got a big strong frame and will be a team’s Mr Dependable in the near future.” – Ashley Glover, Dobber Prospects
“Braden is a fearless competitor with unparalleled leadership ability. His blend of skill, power, and hockey IQ will allow him to become a high impact defensive player at the pro level.” – Brennen York, WHL scout
Timeline and fit for potential NHL game
If Colorado takes Braden Schneider, they’ll be drafting a player they know very well dating back to his bantam days. He would likely stay in the WHL for his final year, though, competing for an increased leadership role in Brandon and for a spot on the Canadian U20 WJC team as a top 4 defenseman. He would be eligible to join the AHL’s Colorado Eagles the following season, where he would likely need to spend 1 to 2 full seasons learning the pro game. After those years are up, though, Erik Johnson’s contract could come off the books — which would open up a spot for a player with his style of game. While he could get call up in his second season in the AHL, he would most likely be fully competing for a spot in 3 years. Ultimately he could be a big piece of a young, intelligent group of defenders for the Avalance, and he will fit in perfectly.
Braden Schneider has been a favorite of mine since his bantam days. I have a soft spot for two way defensive defensemen, who are very smart and have some throwback in them. He is a solid leader on and off the ice, he can log big minutes, and he plays in every situation. Right side playing defenders who offer the complete package are hard to come by, but Schneider could be just that.