Each day over the next 10 days leading up to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, held on Oct. 6–7, The Rink will be taking a look at draft prospects who could be available when the Chicago Blackhawks announce their selection with the 17th overall pick. We will group the players by position, now moving to defensemen.
Next in the series of prospect profiles is Canadian defenseman Braden Schneider.
2019–20 Team: Brandon (WHL)
Date of Birth: Sept. 20, 2001
Place of Birth: Prince Albert, SK, Canada
Weight: 202 pounds
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 9 (North American Skaters)
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 8 (North American Skaters)
NHL Comparable: Connor Murphy
Another defense-first blueliner, Braden Schneider provides an intriguing option for teams picking in the middle of the first round with his style of play and potential offensive upside.
Like Kaiden Guhle, Schneider is highly effective at separating pucks from the opposition. Schneider primarily uses an active stick to swipe pucks away, but also enjoys stepping up to lay the body as well. Schneider frequently makes the right choice of which strategy to utilize, and rarely runs out of position to make contact. His defensive decision making is quick, allowing him to limit potential damage.
Again like Guhle, Schneider has pretty good mobility for a player of his size. Schneider is able to cover the ice very well and takes full advantage of it with his sound gap control. He positions himself well particularly when defending the rush and deploys his stick wisely to break up passes.
However, Schneider certainly has some differences from Guhle. Schneider is more of a pace-controlling defender than a true shutdown defender, as he is patient and efficient with his coverage.
Another big difference between the two is Schneider’s ability to move the puck well, especially in more settled situations. Schneider is very good at reading forecheckers and reacting accordingly in order to start the transition. Once inside the offensive zone, Schneider is generally a more conservative blueliner at even strength, electing to stay at the point more times than not and serve as an outlet if needed.
Of course, Schneider certainly has his deficiencies as well. With the puck, Schneider can struggle under aggressive forechecking pressure, often resulting in a turnover. Additionally, Schneider at times lacks consistency with his outlet passes, sometimes not reading the passing opportunity correctly by putting too much or not enough muscle on the feed. Schneider also does not have the most threatening shot in the world, especially when electing to stay near the blue line.
Defensively, Schneider can display some inconsistency in reading the opposition in more settled situations, losing his positioning in the process. Though generally a mobile rearguard, Schneider has shown he can be beat to the outside by high-end skaters.
Implications for the Blackhawks
Like Guhle, Schneider’s draft stock is in the air, as some feel he could be a top-15 pick while others think he could drop to the end of the first round. Despite that, with his rather limited upside and being a right-handed defenseman, Schneider probably does not make a ton of sense for the Blackhawks given their relative prospect depth on the right side even if he is still on the board at 17. Assuming Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell can both play top-four minutes on the right side for Chicago, that immediately caps Schneider as a third-pairing defenseman and you would presumably want to get better value with a 17th overall selection than that.
Schneider would benefit from a conservative development route to iron out his inconsistencies. He will spend at least another year in the WHL before turning pro, where he would then be best suited for a year or two in the AHL before getting into an NHL lineup. As such, Schneider likely will not be playing NHL minutes until at least 2023–24.
While Schneider theoretically could develop into more of a two-way threat to become a top-four defenseman at the NHL level, odds are better he will top out as a solid depth defender, perhaps carving out a role as a reliable No. 5 defenseman.
What others are saying
“A right-handed shot and two-way player capable of playing the power play and penalty kill with great competitiveness and smarts, he’s a more physically developed prospect and finishes checks with authority in all areas of the ice.”
“A physical presence on the blue line who can counter quickly thanks to his impressive speed and quick thinking, Schneider is a prototypical western Canadian defenseman who relies on poise, smart positioning and punishing hits to neutralize opposing rushes. Schneider patrols the neutral zone like a shark and has a high success rate when he decides to step up into a play. You rarely see an opponent try to beat him 1-on-1, and they certainly make an effort to maintain awareness when Schneider’s on the ice in order to avoid one of his patented open-ice hits. … He uses his sturdy frame, quick thinking and long reach to his advantage, and he is a major problem solver for his coach in situations like the penalty kill, where Schneider can be an unforgiving adversary to challenge for net-front superiority. He also times his releases from the low slot in conjunction with his partner’s positioning. All these aspects make it understandable why Schneider is viewed as a legitimate first-round candidate, but infrequent game-breaking instances places him outside the top tier of first-year eligible defenders.”