August 27 2012 11:08AM
Jordan Schroeder has been closely scruntized from the day he arrived at the University of Minnesota, and from day one, he’s consistently impressed. A player who can do it all, only his size has ever been a concern. Nonetheless, after a solid second professional season, Schroeder seems poised to make the next step.
With the departure of Cody Hodgson and Ryan Kesler's hip injury likely to keep him out of the lineup until early 2013, Schroeder's chance to step up has never looked better. The young Minnesotan has consistently drawn praise for his work ethic and attitude, and each season has proven to be more polished than the season before. He's made the transition from college to pro hockey, but the step from the AHL to the NHL is the toughest step out there. Schroeder looks likely to get a long look this season, whenever that might be.
Known as an excellent skater with good hands and vision, Schroeder’s upside is high. Playing mostly as a centre, he has also played on the wing - he played there for the U.S. world junior team in 2008 (11 points in 6 games) and 2009 (8 points in 7 games). He also played at the world junior as a seventeen year old (8 points in 6 games).
Asked to provide CanucksArmy with some reflections on Schroeder’s time with the US national development program, the program’s director, Scott Monaghan, was full of praise for the Minnesotan centre.
“Jordan was a dynamic, skilled center with an ability to make players around him better. He had great vision and could also score big goals when needed. He won a gold medal and a bronze medal in two IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championships and was a very important player on our 2010 IIHF World Junior Team that won gold.”
Following his two high school years with the NTDP, Schroeder - also noted for his hard work in the classroom - signed on to play at the University of Minnesota, beginning in the fall of 2008. His freshman season was impressive: 45 points in 35 games, just one point back from leading the team. He was drafted by the Canucks the following summer His second season playing for the Golden Gophers was a disappointment, as the team posted its worst record in a decade and Schroeder put up just 28 points in 37 games.
At the end of his second college season, Schroeder signed with the Canucks and he was assigned to finish out the season in Manitoba. He recorded 9 points in 11 games, including a pair of goals in his debut game.
The transition to pro hockey has been challenging for Schroeder, but this past season, his second as a pro, was a great improvement on his first. His debut season (2010-11) with Manitoba was difficult, recording just 10 goals and 28 points in 61 games for the Moose. And although his personal results weren't as forthcoming as he might have liked, his work ethic and attitude were always evident.
We spoke with Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, who watched Schroeder's first professional season first hand:
When Jordan played for the Moose, I thought he was a really smart player. In his rookie pro year, he bounced around on the lines, had a serious injury at mid-season and really struggled with consistency. No surprise, given those circumstances.
Of course he's on the small side, but in any conversation I always got the impression he just refused to let that be an excuse for anything, and I think it speaks to his determination.
Watching the Wolves this season (admittedly, mostly from afar), Schroeder’s season can be described as ‘steady.’ Mostly centring Chicago’s third line, the Minnesotan was also used in all situations. He bagged 21 goals, tying him with Darren Haydar for second on the team, and 44 points, good for third on the Wolves’ scoring table.
Thomas Drance pointed out in May that Schroeder doubled his shot volume this past season; both in his debut season (2010-11) in Manitoba and his sophomore season in Chicago saw him post identical 11.5 shooting percentages. Schroeder’s success will continue forward if he keeps shooting the puck.
He mainly played with Billy Sweatt and Mike Davies on a bit of a kid line, using their speed to push the tempo on the forecheck while doing a tidy job of defending in their own end. Davies and Sweatt played very tough minutes all season - second- and third-toughest on the team, respectively. Schroeder’s minutes were not quite as tough because he spent several stretches away from his regular linemates, occasionally playing with the likes of Tim Miller and Byron Bitz, both of whom were handed rather sheltered minutes by head coach Craig MacTavish.
MacTavish was confident using Schroeder in all situations. The Wolves’ magazine, Breakaway, spoke with the Wolves coach in April:
“Big progress for him,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “Really has taken a nice step from where he was last year. Not just his offense, but also his general understanding of how to play the game on both sides of the puck. He’s added a lot of work ethic to his game, a lot of reliability that maybe he didn’t have last year. He’s been one of our most consistent guys all year.”
In May, Schroeder told The Province’s Jim Jamieson some telling details about his two years of professional coaching:
“I had a lot of learning to do,” said Schroeder. “Claude Noel told me you’re going to realize what you need to do to be successful. He was pretty hard on me, but I think I’m a better player for it.
“This year, with coach MacTavish, he helped me a lot, adding stuff to my game, trying to make me a better all-around player.”
An all-around player is what Schroeder has long drawn praise for. He can skate, but also reads the game well both when he has the puck and when he doesn’t have the puck.
Final word today goes to Scott McWilliam of NHL Central Scouting:
Schroeder may yet be a secret little weapon for the Canucks - If he has the right linemates - He could light it up yet!
And what’s McWilliam’s high mark of what Schroeder could be?
Patrick Kane - he could be that good with a less selfish streak in him.
That’s not bad.
Oh, and the last thing to remember about Schroeder? He’s still only 21.