Team: Brandon Wheat Kings, Western Hockey League, (WHL)
2020 Draft Prospect Ranking (Central Scouting): 9th Amongst North American Skaters
For those who have never heard of Braden Schneider before, let me tell you, you’re in for a real treat. When we think of the term “defenseman” in the context of hockey, a few things come to mind. Whether they can move the puck, “lock it down” defensively, or “read” the game at a high level, these are all traits of successful defensemen at the National Hockey League level. Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman, Braden Schneider of the Western Hockey League (WHL) checks all of those boxes. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at what makes Schneider so special and how impactful he can be in the NHL.
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By the Numbers
Although certainly not the “be all and end all”, stats are an important component when analyzing top prospects. In the case of Braden Schneider, pro scouts definitely liked what they saw. As the top defenseman on the Wheat Kings, Schneider stood out like a sore thumb on many cold, winter nights in Brandon, Manitoba. From a sheer production standpoint, Schneider’s numbers are impressive.
This past season with the Wheat Kings saw Schneider tally 7 goals and 35 assists for 42 points in 60 games. His 42 assists and 60 points were both career-highs. Those totals were good enough for eighth in scoring by defensemen in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Schneider was also named a WHL All-Star as one of the top defensemen in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). In 3 full seasons in Brandon, the 18-year-old recorded 88 points (16 goals and 72 assists) in 185 WHL games. Statistically speaking, Schneider’s numbers are stellar and have really helped his draft stock leading up to the draft.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Schneider’s rise to stardom begins with his size and stature. At 6’2, 210 pounds, he’s a real presence both on and off the ice. Oozing with raw potential, Schenider is the ideal two-way defenseman that would be a fit on any NHL club. Schneider is a good skater who knows when to jump into the rush. His decision-making and hockey-IQ are well above-average for an 18-year old. He has a good outlet pass and can turn defense to offense with skill and creativity. Many “in the know” across Canadian junior hockey, have also referred to Schneider as the best “hitter” in this year’s draft class.
Schneider’s play without the puck is also exceptional. While defending, he closes gaps quickly and has a real active stick. He puts himself in good positions and is a real steady figure on the blue line. Schnieder is also patient and good along the boards. His size gets him out of a lot of jams and makes up for any shortcomings. Schneider can also log big minutes and play in all situations. The coaching staff in Brandon never shied away from giving Schneider “extra responsibility” over the past few seasons. When you watch him play, there’s a lot to admire about Braden Schneider. All in all, he may very well be the best “stay at home” defenseman at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Braden Schneider’s game continues to evolve and develop at a rapid rate. Pro scouts have been impressed with his work ethic and extensive toolkit. Within the next year or so, Schneider should sit comfortably as a second-pairing, top-4 defenseman.
Schneider possesses many of hockey’s most coveted intangibles that should place him in good stead at the NHL level. He is an intriguing prospect when you factor in his body of work over the past 3 seasons in the WHL. A shoo-in first-rounder, I project Schneider to be selected between picks 16 and 22 at the draft. Teams may also inch into the top-15 to grab his services. It’s safe to say that the right-shot defenseman has a real, bright future ahead of him. So which team ends up with the Alberta-born blue-liner? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images