Where Jordan Schroeder Fits in once Ryan Kesler and David Booth return to the lineup

Patrick Johnston
February 08 2013 03:32PM


Going somewhere, Jordan?

Before the season, I wrote about how it was time for Jordan Schroeder to get his chance. Over the course of the past two seasons, he’d proved himself to be a solid two-way performer in Chicago and I figured it was time to test him at a higher level.

He’s been getting plenty of press lately and with Schroeder continuing his strong play in his hometown on Thursday night, it all fit into a lovely narrative. But histrionic gushing aside, we shouldn't let any of that obscure the fact that on the whole, he’s made the transition well and looks like he belongs at the NHL level (though he still needs to be more productive offensively). 

One other thing is equally clear, though: he’s no Ryan Kesler. More on the Canucks’ two American centres after the jump.

Last week Drance wrote about the four ways that the Canucks miss Ryan Kesler. One of those areas is his even-strength dominance. Kesler plays tough minutes in his own zone, turns the puck the other way and still generates plenty of offence.

If there’s one thing to point to in the difference between their respective games, it’s this.

Schroeder has faced relatively straightforward minutes in his 7 NHL games – he’s seventh among Canucks forwards in Quality of Competition. He’s playing a relatively even game in those minutes – you’d like to see more shots while he’s on the ice, but the sample size is still quite small - and it will bear watching to see where his corsi numbers go over the next fifteen games or so.

Kesler, on the other hand, faced the fifith tough competition among regular Canucks forwards in 2011-12, grouped with his most frequent linemates, David Booth and Chris Higgins.

If we go off the lineup that Alain Vigneault used on Thursday night and look to triangulate what will happen when Kesler returns - as Jeff Angus did just the other day - it seems pretty clear that one of Mason Raymond or Jannik Hansen will slide down to the third line, leaving Kesler to play with one of those two and either Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian or Alex Burrows. With David Booth still out, it seems likely that Schroeder will remain in the lineup, centring what would be a very speedy third line. Kesler would draw tougher match ups than Schroeder, allowing the diminutive Minnesotan more high-quality development time.

That is, unless the Canucks decide to try out Ryan Kesler on the wing. On August 21st, this past summer, Canucks Assisstant General Manager Laurence Gilman appeared on the Team1040 for a full hour with Matt Sekeres. At one point during the illuminating chat (which Drance covered at length at the time), Gilman was asked whether or not the Canucks needed a "playmaking winger" to play alongside David Booth and Ryan Kesler.

Vancouver's resident capologist and chief analytics guy scoffed at the notion a bit,  and quipped "playmaking winger? That's a good euphemism." But he went on to give a fascinating answer, even describing his seeming preference for playing Ryan Kesler on the wing.

"Ryan is a finisher, he's a shooter and he's a unique centreiceman (he's also really good at Faceoffs which is a key role for a centreiceman)," explained Gilman, "but some of the best hockey Kesler played in my time here is when he played right wing, with Mats Sundin in the middle." He continued to discuss a scenario in which the Canucks might consider moving Ryan Kesler over the wing, "When you have assets like Jordan Schroeder you have the luxury of maybe playing Ryan with other players."

So what has become a recent talking point among Canucks fans and media, is actually something Laurence Gilman was discussing as early as late August of 2012. Whether or not we'll actually see this come to pass, however, will obviously depend on whether or not Jordan Schroeder can continue to impress with his two-way game over the next dozen or so games.

Transcribed Gilman quotes are courtesy Thomas Drance, and Gilman gave those quotes during his hour long Team 1040 interview with Matt Sekeres on August 21st, 2012. Unfortunately the podcast is no longer hosted on the Team 1040 webpage.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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#1 Good read
February 09 2013, 12:38AM
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Great read. You brought up some good points.

I'm uber curious what happens to Schroeder when Kes comes back. Will they let him centre his own line with so little NHL experience? Gotta think he will be really sheltered if they let that happen. Plus, Canucks are rumored to want a centre back in a goalie trade - what then for Schroeder?

Should be interesting. But I've been really impressed with him so far. Admittedly, I didn't have high hopes for him. I thought he was wayyyy to small to play in the west. But he's looked really patient with the puck, not afraid to go the net and battle for pucks with the big boys. He's got some nice hands, made some great outlet passes and been reasonable defensivly for a rookie.

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#2 Joel
February 09 2013, 11:06AM
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@Good read

I agree about going to the net. I thought he was awesome junior, but I didn't think he'd show the same sort of will to go to the high traffic areas against NHL dmen that are on average 50 pounds and 6 inches bigger than him.

But his play so far, especially charging the net in the Minnesota game to enable Raymond to score that PP goal, shows differently.

I just hope we don't see him get injured due to the difference in size between him and Dmen, like another small, skilled player I liked in junior (Brule)

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#3 Bill
February 09 2013, 02:11PM
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Great post. I would love to see a Booth, Kesler, Kassian line once everyone is healthy. Its definitely an experiment but one that I think could work out. Kesler is a finisher and Booth thinks "shoot" before "pass" and the two haven't had the best chemistry in the past. Kassian as we all know has tremendous vision for the game,(and in my opinion not a great shot)and is a great passer. With those 3 on a line the Canucks would have a second line that was fast, with good size, tremendous offensive upside but not reckless in their own zone. As for where Schroeder would end up I have no idea but I think he has proven that he deserves to stay.

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