Braden Schneider isn’t a flashy defenceman, but he’s working on that.
The big, right-shot blue liner has got the defence part of his position down pat. So this season, he focused on adding some offence to his game as he tries to become a more complete player. He still has room to grow, but the strides he took this season are very promising.
Here’s everything you need to know about Braden Schneider.
Age: 19 (Sept. 20, 2001)
Weight: 209 pounds
Current team: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Blue line brick wall
Hard work and hard to play against are two traits that define Schneider’s game. He takes care of his own zone first and has been a reliable player for the Wheat Kings over the last three seasons, two of them as an assistant captain.
"I don't think his mindset is to jump into the play all the time and get points," Wheat Kings GM Darren Ritchie said in an interview with NHL.com. "I think he takes care of his end and when he has those opportunities he will jump into the play.”
At six-foot-two and 209 pounds, Schneider is an imposing figure and he’s not afraid to drop the shoulder to lay some big hits. While not fast, he’s strong on his skates and knows when to pinch in to catch an unsuspecting opponent by surprise.
“I’m a two-way defenceman but I take a little bit more pride in the defensive end,” Schneider said in an interview with Hockey Prospects.com. “I like to be a presence and I like to get in guys’ faces and be as physical as I can. And if there’s an opportunity or opening to jump up or try to make a shot on net for a chance, I try to jump up and take full advantage of it.”
Schneider began playing hockey at the age of four and growing up in Prince Albert, Sask., he and younger brother Marek -- a defenceman prospect for the Saskatoon Blades -- were always mindful of protecting the defensive zone first. Their mother Carmela says hockey became a way of life for the whole family and that her sons are very driven to be the best players they can be.
“We spend a lot of time on the road, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Both sons have a natural talent and passion for the sport but they also have the drive and determination to want to succeed,” Carmela said in an interview with the Kamsack Times. “(Braden) is doing very well in the position as defenceman with a knack for penalty kills. His size and strength are his definite assets.”
Focus on improving offence
This year Schneider spent a lot of time working on the offensive side of his game and he nearly doubled his point total from the previous season. Schneider finished the season with seven goals and 42 points in 60 games after only registering 24 points in 2018-19.
Schneider’s breakout pass is an important asset as is his ability to quarterback a power play, and his assists totals took a big jump this season as a result. But he also became more aggressive in the offensive zone this season, pinching in closer to the net to score goals or cause chaos around the net. He even scored a shorthanded goal this season.
“I think I came into this season with a lot more confidence and I was getting more opportunities as well,” said Schneider in an interview with DubNetwork.ca. “In the past, I was really focusing on my defensive side of the game and I just felt that I could add some more offence to become a more complete player. I think I did that and it was a pretty good season for me.”
RHD Braden Schneider of the @bdnwheatkings had a beauty goal last night!
He comes in from the point and one-times the rebound from Ridly Greig's shot (His 2nd) to put the #WheatKings up 3-0. Identifying/converting on that play makes Schneider intriguing for the #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/7VGna6M4zC
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) October 5, 2019
Putting up points has never been the focal point of Schneider’s game and it probably never will be, but he knows that to get the opportunity to be a big-minute, two-way player at the next level, he needs to add some offence to his game. His big jump in points this season shows that new focus is starting to pay off and that progress will continue in Brandon next season.
"I want to improve every part of my game but the big thing would be improving in the offensive zone and working on my two-way game a little bit more," Schneider said in an interview with NHL.com. "I'm not sure I'll be given it but I'm sure I'll work for it and I'll try to prove myself and hopefully get more opportunities in that end of the ice."
Models game after Weber, Pietrangelo
It should come as no surprise based off the description in the sections above, but Schneider enjoys watching two big, right-shot defencemen: Shea Weber and Alex Pietrangelo.
Schneider says the two NHL captains are dependable at both ends and able to move across the ice easily despite their size, which are traits he also sees in his own play.
"Weber and Pietrangelo are bigger guys that take pride in their own end," Schneider told NHL.com. "They can produce offensively but they're big, hard guys to play against.”
Peter Sullivan, who scouts the WHL for NHL Central Scouting, thinks Schneider profiles like another NHL defenceman: Ryan Pulock of the New York Islanders, who also played his junior hockey in Brandon. Pulock has one of the harder shots in the NHL and is becoming a more important player on the Islanders’ blue line every year, scoring at least 32 points in each of his three full NHL seasons.
"(Schneider is) solid on his skates and moves the puck like an NHL player, similar to Ryan Pulock," Sullivan said. "He's got very good hockey sense and decision making. He's tough to play against, and he's a player that, from a coach's perspective, you can play him in any situation."