Coming in at no. 16 in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings is Jordan Schroeder of Prior Lake, MN, who turns 24 at the end of the month and thus will not be eligible for next year's list (the cut off is October 1st). The 5 ft 8 centre was originally drafted 22nd overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2009, but became a free agent this Summer when they decided not to give him a qualifying offer.
He has scored 115 points in 192 AHL games and 15 points in 56 NHL games since leaving the University Of Minnesota in 2010.
At 5'9/180, Schroeder isnt' the biggest player in stature, but he may be the most complete. Schroeder is a highly intelligent player that thinks and understands the game exceedingly well. He possesses excellent vision, awareness, and knows where plays will end up. He is instinctive and creative. Schroeder has the ability to make players around him better and his infectious enthusiasm and passion for the game is difficult to miss.
Schroeder has proven time and again that he is more than capable of competing against bigger and stronger players. He is remarkably strong on his skates and while he is still growing into his body, the strength that he now has he uses to great advantage. This can be seen in areas such as protecting the puck and his play along the boards. Schroeder has also demonstrated that he can handle the physically punishing aspects of the game as well.
Scouting reports on him consistently note that:
- His on-ice vision is excellent.
- He plays a lot bigger than his size and has remarkable strength.
- His puck handling is very good.
The data from both seasons put Schroeder just on the right side of "0", showing that he marginally exceeded his expected possession numbers twice. I think it's fair to say that he's not a liability when he isn't scoring and may have some value as a defensive player. Obviously both of those seasons are fairly small samples due to his lack of games, but the numbers are reasonably encouraging.
In spite of him being a decent play driver, the return in terms of on ice goals differential has been underwhelming. Last year was a disaster, with the Canucks only scoring a 42% share of the goals with Schroeder on the ice at 5v5. This can be partly explained by his extremely low PDO as he was one of the lowest ranked forwards in the league in terms of On Ice Sh% and On Ice Sv%. Surely he's due for a bounce back year in 2014/15?
PDO is partly driven by skill, but mostly driven by luck/randomness. History tells us that extreme highs or lows one season are likely to regress to the mean the next. If a low On-Ice Sv% meant a player was bad at defence, then Jonathan Toews, who ranked just a few spots higher than Schroeder last year, should probably hand back his Selke. Truth be told, Schroeder just played in front of some below par goaltending in what was a disastrous season for the Canucks.
I think the most likely scenario next season sees Schroeder start the year in Iowa as their 1st or 2nd line centre, but there's a case to be made that he could be a useful piece on the NHL roster. He is a natural centre,but his F0% has been fairly disastrous so far in his career so I'm not sure if he's the man you want taking draws. Reading around online, there seems to be some suggestions that he can also play RW, so maybe that could be his route into the lineup. Here are two possible configurations that feature him:
He would be a good addition to a 3rd line that features Haula and either Coyle or Niederreiter. With his decent two-way play and awareness in the offensive zone, Haula's speed and Nino's nose for the net they could be a dominant and extremely fast depth line. To get that roster spot, he would need to beat out Jason Zucker and Michael Keranen (as well as any youngsters who make an impression on the coaches in camp). Personally, I would rather have Schroeder in Minnesota, allowing Zucker to work on his game in the AHL while waiting for a call up, and also allowing Phillips and Graovac to be the top two centres for the Iowa Wild thus aiding their development.
Another way to use Schroeder would be to make him the RW on a 4th line/defensive line with Cooke and Brodziak. His speed and energy would be suited to that role and would allow Justin Fontaine to play a more offensive role on the 3rd line, which he is better suited for.