Like I’ve stated numerous times before, this draft class in 2020 is very forward heavy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting defensemen out there. As I wrote in my article on Justin Barron:
The defense class this year all have noted upsides regarding their skating ability, with most being classed as “mobile defenders”.
This again holds true for Braden Schneider, who skates very smoothly for a big defensemen (6’2”, 209 lbs). If Justin Barron were the “defensively responsible”, stay at home defenseman, and Jeremie Poirier the risky, high variance offensive defenseman, then Schneider sits right in the middle as a very prototypical two-way blue-liner. Schneider has a lot of tools that he uses to effectively stop plays in his own and neutral zones, and can move the puck effectively. He’s going to be a guy that coaches will lean on in crucial moments, and I can see him being very important playing in the top four on a good playoff team.
However, that being said, Schneider isn’t a flashy player, and he does a lot of things to a very good level, but nothing that makes you jump out of your seat like Poirier. He would very much fit the mould of the type of defenseman the Flyers have been drafting this past decade, which isn’t the worst thing in the world considering what it’s led to.
Let’s take a look:
What do the stats say?
While you want your defensemen to score, obviously, point totals aren’t always going to be a standout talking point (unless you’re talking about someone like Poirier). Schneider hasn’t put out bad numbers, but nothing that will wow you. In 2019-20, playing with Brandon in the WHL, in 60 games he scored 7 goals and 35 assists for 42 points. The season prior, Schneider put up 24 points in 58 games.
It is worthwhile to note as well that 2019-20 was Schneider’s age 18 season, as he is a September 2001 birthday, meaning he’s played in the CHL since 2016-17 (though he only appeared in one regular season game and three playoff games. He made his full debut in 2017-18).
Schneider has also featured for Canada, playing in the 2018-19 Hlinka-Gretzky cup, though he did not register a point in five games.
His statistical profile just reads “steady defenseman”, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Drafting a top four defenseman who plays effectively at both ends of the ice is never a bad thing. However, Schneider just doesn’t seem like a very exciting pick. I’ll get into this more, but I don’t quite see the appeal when essentially he plays a similar game to Cam York except less effective on the power play. If the Flyers are going to take a defenseman, I would rather, at this point, see them take someone like Poirier who could be a game-breaker.
The Eye Test
Schneider is very good in his own zone, and uses his above average skating to close gaps well and seal off attackers. He can do this with effective stick checking, but also loves to throw a good hit. He’s also fairly effective at transitioning the puck to breakout, though his passing in this aspect could be improved.
Schneider’s best assets are his skating, and his ability to read plays before they develop. This translates well defensively (as pictured above) and offensively as well. Schneider is willing to pinch deep into the offensive zone if he sees the opportunity, and has enough skill to take advantage of those situations.
This combination of skills (Schneider really doesn’t have any glaring problems with his game at all) leads to him being very effective on the penalty kill. He isn’t quite good enough on the offensive side of things to be a power play defenseman, but on the PK, Schneider excels due to how well he anticipates play.
Now, Schneider is clearly a responsible defenseman with an effective two-way game. He looks very NHL ready due to how good he is with his feet and because of his effectiveness in nearly everything he does. However, I really don’t want the Flyers to pick him. I just don’t see anything that excites me, and maybe I’m being a bit ridiculous. He looks like he’s going to be a pretty good NHL player, after all. However, I would have to have another “responsible two-way” defenseman who just isn’t really cutting it taking a roster spot from a more skilled player. That’s essentially what we have right now with Robert Hagg, and I don’t want a repeat of that.
Would this pick excite me? No. But I don’t think I’d be outraged either.
If you’re this far, thank you for reading! I think I’m going to take a brief hiatus from the draft articles to focus on other things, but please let me know if there’s anyone you want me to do a write up on! Could be any player projected in any round.