The NHL season is finally in the midst of entering phase II of their return to play plan. Despite the smell of hockey being in the air, the NHL looked into having different options open for the NHL draft. The draft now looks to not occur until the Fall, with Commissioner Gary Bettman declaring on Tuesday May 26 that the playoffs will end before the draft.
However, it’s never too early to evaluate prospects. It’s time to devote our attention to some prospects for this year’s draft. The Flyers will look to have a pick anywhere between the mid-20s and possibly even 31. So with this being said, my colleagues and I have devoted our attention to some solid depth prospects that could wind up putting on an orange and black sweater one day.
Braden Schneider – RHD – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – 6’2” 209lbs
The Flyers selected Cam York with their first pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and it may make sense to go defense in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft as well. If that’s the case, then Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Braden Schneider would be a solid fit for the orange and black.
Schneider is in his third year with Brandon Wheat, and is in the midst of a breakout year at the age of 18. Schneider totaled nine goals and 37 assists for 46 points in his first two seasons with Brandon Wheat. This season, Schneider was on pace to surpass his production over those two seasons. He tallied 7 goals and added 35 helpers for 42 points. Schneider has started to round out his offensive game, while his defense holds steady.
Dobber Prospects scout Tony Ferrari drafted a scouting report of Schneider before the 2019/20 season and had a few things to say about the WHL blueliner.
“His game is predicated on effective puck movement and a willingness to use his strong frame to his advantage. Defensively, he stays in a good position and closes the gap on the rush. He engages physically, stepping up on a forward who is attempting to enter the zone with possession. He battles in front of the net, using his size to clear space for his goaltender. He has a penchant for throwing big hits that can sometimes take him out of the play which is one area of his game that could use some cleaning up. The young Brandon Wheat Kings defender makes a good first pass, oftentimes opting for the aggressive play such as a stretch pass.“
The most intriguing quote I came across came from Brock Otten of McKeen’s Hockey.
“Another standout at the recent Top Prospect’s Game, Schneider is a heavy WHL defender who could have fit in well with several renditions of the Flyers over the years. And while the team has drafted several defenders high in recent years (Cam York, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim), all are left shots. If the Flyers feel that Schneider is the best player available, why not use this selection on him as he represents a slightly different style of defender than what they already have, and his right shot will be valuable to them in the future.“
Otten raises a great point. A lot of the top defensive prospects for the Flyers are left handed. Discounting Wyatte Wylie, Phil Myers is the only young Flyers defenseman with a right handed shot. Adding Schneider to the mix could pay off down the road, as we know that right-shot defensemen are always at a premium in the NHL.
- HockeyProspect.com Top 31 – 18 overall, 2 on defense
- ISS Hockey Top 31 – 13 overall, 3 on defense
- NHL Central Scouting, North America – 9 overall, 4 on defense
- EliteProspects.com Top 31 – 46 overall
- Future Considerations Top 31 – 27 overall, 5 on defense
- McKeen’s Top 31 – 19 overall, 4 on defense
Schneider is no doubt one of the top defenders entering this years draft. He’s an effective puck mover and is also willing to use his big frame to his advantage. He does show a tendency to throw the big hit instead of stick to his assignment, but that’s just a wrinkle in his game that can be ironed out with the proper coaching.
Schneider has a very quick shot, which is great from the blue line. He’s able to join the rush when he deems appropriate, something that not a lot of draft-eligible defenders can claim. He pushes the pace from the back end, but also knows when he needs to drift back. He’s a responsible defender with great positioning.
In his own zone, Schneider tends to stop up on forwards entering the zone, which shows his aggressive side a bit. It typically works to his advantage. His puck movement is solid, and he has a good, aggressive first pass. Down the road, Schneider could prove to be a viable top-four defenseman on an NHL team.
With the Flyers picking late in the first, they should be taking the best player available. If that just so happens to be Braden Schneider, fantastic. The Flyers seriously need to entertain the idea of drafting defense. Zamula, York, and Wylie are all on their way to becoming pros, York in another year or so. After that, the Flyers defensive cupboard is barren. Adding a quality prospect like Schneider bolsters their prospect depth, and gives them options moving forward if one player doesn’t pan out the way they imagined.
Schneider’s game looks eerily similar to Robert Hagg’s. Now, this is not a bad thing. Schneider has more offensive upside, but he’s also a pretty sound defenseman, much like Hagg. The problem with this line of thinking is, do you want to spend a first round pick on a player like Robert Hagg? He may end up being more like Matt Niskanen than Hagg, that would warrant a first round pick. Six or seven years down the line and Schneider is a 6/7D and falls into the Hagg role, you’re going to want to re-visit why you spent a first rounder on the guy.
Ultimately, Schneider exudes quality. He’s really coming into his own this past season, and one more year with Brandon Wheat may be the icing on the cake before going pro. The Flyers can afford to give him time to develop. The Flyers drafting Schneider may be the perfect match not just for Schneider, but for the Flyers as well.