It makes sense to shop Jordan Schroeder, but he should be qualified

Thomas Drance
June 19 2014 01:21PM

The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly shopping undersized, underachieving 2009 first round draft pick Jordan Schroeder, according to the News 1130 Sports twitter account. It's not a huge surprise to hear that the organization aren't counting on a player like Schroeder going forward - he's a diminutive natural centre, who has battled a myriad of injuries already in his career, and hasn't produced like a future top-six mainstay since he left college.

That the organization is "very unlikely" to extend the soon to be 24-year-old forward a qualifying offer, which News 1130 Sports is also reporting on Wednesday, is a bit of an eyebrow raiser though. We'll wade into it after the jump.

There's no sugar coating it: at this point in his career, Schroeder isn't a good bet to become an NHL regular. His potential value is derived from his speed and positional awareness, but because he's just 5-foot-9, it seems unlikely that the Canucks - an organization that likes to talk about getting grittier in the bottom-six and goes out of its way to praise Shawn Thornton - would have interest in a player of Schroeder's ilk filling a bottom-six role. 

As for filling a top-six role, Schroeder's career .6 points-per game rate in the AHL doesn't exactly fill us with warm cuddly visions of a guy poised to develop into Vancouver's version of "David Desharnais" - never mind metamorphosing into the sort of player that lives up to the absurd "mini-Yzerman" comparisons he drew before the 2009 NHL draft.

Where does that leave a player who has demonstrated some two-way aptitude, but only limited finishing ability over three professional seasons? Switzerland? Maybe Medveščak Zagreb?

One place it leaves him is with limited trade value. Over the past 12 months we've seen a couple of first round picks from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft be traded - Louis Leblanc (for a 5th-round pick), and Peter Holland (for Brad Staubitz, Jesse Blacker, and two draft picks including an eventual 2nd-rounder). Schroeder surely has less value than those two players on the trade market, though if Vancouver was willing to take back an obvious AHL player on a one-way NHL contract (a la Brad Staubitz, or Jeremy Welsh) maybe, maybe they can net a top-150 pick at the draft in return. 

If the organization has identified Schroeder as a player that isn't in their plans going forward, recouping a draft pick for him (even a draft pick that isn't very good) is a sensible course of action. 

It makes no sense not to qualify Schroeder, though. 

For context, consider this: do you remember Bill Sweatt and Anton Rodin? Both forwards struggled to establish themselves as NHL players, and ultimately spent the past season in Sweden. Both players also received qualifying offers last summer, because the Canucks wanted to retain their rights as RFAs. That's just how asset management works in the NHL, at least that's how competent asset management works. 

Fans find it satisfying to talk about "moving on" and "clearing the decks" on the internet and sports media sometimes enjoys castigating a guy who isn't big enough to hang with "heavy" teams like the three Kaiju in California. Asset management is cold and rational though. Sometimes it's about stubbornly and methodically turning nothing, into a little bit more than that.

In Schroeder's case, he was injured at the tail end of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury and wasn't healthy to open training camp. He was injured shortly after recovering from that injury when he blocked a shot and broke his foot. At no point in this past season was he close to 100 percent.

Because of his injury history, relative youth, and dimming, but still extant potential, it would seem to me that Schroeder's the type of player you'd give a full summer to. Either let him accept his qualifying offer ($660k per capgeek.com, I also believe that it would be a one-way deal because Schroeder didn't clear waivers last season) or head to Europe if he'd prefer. 

If Schroeder accepts his qualifying offer, then there's no cap ramifications if Vancouver decides to waive him, which they'll surely do unless he comes to training camp and blows the doors off. In the unlikely event that he does (show the Canucks something at camp), cool, Vancouver could probably use an affordable roughly replacement level centreman next season. 

So this is pretty simple: Schroeder is not a valuable asset and won't return much in a trade. If there's a deal to be made great - Schroeder seems to have about the same chance of changing Vancouver's opinion about him as a 5th-round pick has of developing into a useful NHLer anyway.

If there isn't a deal to made though, then Schroeder is still worth a $660k flier. At the very worst, you push losing him for nothing a bit further down the road (he'll have to clear waivers if he's cut this fall). You essentially give a once promising 23-year-old player one more summer to show up in the shape of his life and earn an NHL job. 

If he can't do it, which is likely, then at least you exhausted all of your options before losing him on waivers. And if he clears, he'll surely be able to help a second-year AHL team that struggled enormously in its inaugural season, is about to get a key influx of young talent (Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Dane Fox etc.), and isn't likely to be able to recruit top AHL veterans in free agency. That really should be worth two-thirds of a million dollars to the Canucks.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 NM00
June 19 2014, 01:30PM
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"Vancouver could probably use an affordable roughly replacement level centreman next season."

All 30 teams have access to "affordable" replacement level centreman.

"It make sense to shop Jordan Schroeder, but he should be qualified."

Your headline writer seems to be under the impression that Schroeder has value.

He would actually have to be a notch above the Andrew Ebbetts and Jeff Tambellinis of the world for that to be true.

Tell us more about this replacement level asset management course you are creating...

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#2 PB
June 19 2014, 01:44PM
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@NM00

Isn't the point that the only costs associated with Schroeder are a fairly low qualifying offer and a roster spot? I suppose if he's crowding someone else out and you need the space dumping him makes sense, but I thought the article was arguing that the Canucks should give themselves some more flexibility with what to do with this (rapidly diminishing) asset -- not that this asset is worth anything like what the former GM assessed it to be when making the pick. Better to get a 5th round pick than nothing I suppose (if anyone would even go for that).

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#3 NM00
June 19 2014, 02:01PM
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@PB

For argument's sake, if Benning could get a 5th round pick as opposed to nothing, obviously he would take the pick.

One can assume that if Schroeder is not qualified, it is because nobody particularly wants him unless he is a free asset.

If Schroeder is a replacement level player as Drance suggests, he inherently has no value.

Sweatt & Rodin were not "assets" last year either.

Drance assumes that they were qualified last season because they were "assets".

Perhaps the old regime simply wanted to save face on two players they brought into the organization, one of whom was a 2nd round selection of Vancouver.

This is kind of old but still relevant enough:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/replacement-level-article/

It does not matter if a team gets their replacement games from their own failed draft picks (Schroeder, Sauve) or via free agency (Ebbett, Joslin).

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#4 antro
June 19 2014, 02:15PM
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Not clear where you are disagreeing with Thomas Drance, @NM00. Are you saying that Vancouver shouldn't qualify Schroeder? If so, why not?

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#5 Goon
June 19 2014, 02:44PM
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NM00 is just being as condescending as possible without contributing anything of value.

I'm as shocked as you are.

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#6 Mantastic
June 19 2014, 03:02PM
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@antro

because he's replacement level and there are multiple replacement level centres out there that are much better than Schroeder.

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#7 NM00
June 19 2014, 03:02PM
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@antro

If Schroeder is a replacement level centre as TD says, he has no asset value attached to him and, as such, is replacabale with the dozens of other players that can do his job for the same (minimal) cost.

There's no point pretending a replacement level player has value...

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#8 Mantastic
June 19 2014, 03:05PM
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to be fair, Drance also thought Tanev had 1st rd pick value, last year.

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#9 patchman
June 19 2014, 04:27PM
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To be fair, Schroeder's production in his last full year in the AHL was about .78 points per game, which is about the same as David Desharnais at the same age. Last year was just a write off for him. He came into camp not fully recovered from off season surgery and then basically missed the first 50 games of the season due to injury. It may be that he is too small to match up against the bigger centers in the western conference and he may well not have an NHL future, but it's pretty hard to make any judgments based on a truncated season in which pretty well everyone under performed. If the Canucks want to get bigger and trade him, fine, but I don't know why they wouldn't qualify him.

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#10 Mack Irwin
June 19 2014, 04:39PM
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Totally ridiculous to cut somebody loose who will be making the league minimum and is at worst one of the strongest players for your AHL team. Having good AHL players makes a big difference to both prospect development and the NHL club if injuries strike. He has proven to be competent in the past. You literally can't have enough young guys like him on league minimum two-way contracts. There is no downside with keeping him around so just give him a qualifying offer already

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#11 Ted
June 19 2014, 05:39PM
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I have no issues signing him to a two-way contract for very low money. You never know what he could turn into. Having said that, I don't think he'll become a star but you never know. He could become a decent player or a regular at Utica.

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#12 Barnabas
June 19 2014, 06:40PM
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I guess we are losing a number of our US born players:

Booth, USA - gone Kessler, USA - soon to be gone Schroeder, USA - soon to be gone

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#13 PB
June 19 2014, 07:28PM
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@NM00

There's no doubt that he's been an underwhelming player -- two middling AHL seasons combined with unimpressive parts of NHL ones. But I think not qualifying a former 1st round pick who has some skills and had a pretty injury-plagued last season at the age of 23 is not a terribly smart move. Again, if this was a case of the Canucks having to pay some absurd salary or get him on a one-way deal or if we were up against the cap or the max contracts limit then sure show him the door. But I don't quite get the logic of not qualifying him -- at the least doesn't it put us in a position to make the call later rather than having him just walk away? Are the Canucks that desperate for the $600,000k (or is it 85% of that)? Are there that many promising prospects at that price we can replace him with? Last I checked there were only a handful of Canucks picks who were at a lower contract than him and they're all two-way and even lower ceilings than Schroeder.

This team isn't going to live or die by qualifying Schroeder or letting him walk. I just don't see qualifying him as being a particularly controversial move by the new admin.

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#14 wes
June 19 2014, 10:02PM
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In complete agreement with this article in every way. He's young, cheap, and should be eager to prove himself. Let's see what he can do. Is he a worse nhler than Louis Leblanc?

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#15 BJ
June 19 2014, 10:10PM
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I'm hoping they qualify him and sign his former college line-mate Ryan Stoa and see if they can rekindle some old chemistry.

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#16 Jason
June 20 2014, 01:34AM
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Love the phrase "the three Kaiju in California". Perfect!

Great article as always.

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#17 zipperhead
June 20 2014, 07:46AM
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Mantastic wrote:

to be fair, Drance also thought Tanev had 1st rd pick value, last year.

I think your could easily parlay Tanev into first round pick. He's a 23-year-old d man who is top 4 now on most teams, and he has potential to be top 2. You may not get a top 10 pick for him but a top 20 seems like fair value in this draft.

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#18 Mantastic
June 20 2014, 09:02AM
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@zipperhead

where does he have potential to be top 2? do you even know what a top 2 d-man is like? you clearly don't know the value of a 1st round pick, and what historically they have been traded for (hint it's not Tanev like players)

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#19 Mantastic
June 20 2014, 09:06AM
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@Mack Irwin

actually, you literally can have too many of those types of players, he's below replacement level talent.

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#20 NM00
June 20 2014, 11:38AM
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@PB

What makes Schroeder any better than the other replacement level players floating around?

As Mantastic alludes, Schroeder doesn't fit the "mold" of what teams look for out of their 10-13 forwards.

Whether or not that is logical is beyond the point.

Teams don't value guys like Schroeder unless they can score at a certain level.

The idea of "shopping" a replacement level player is ridiculous.

Nobody who understands what a replacement level player is would suggest something so absurd...

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#21 Canuckistanian
June 20 2014, 05:16PM
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@Mantastic

Will Tanev become a top-2 Dman? I don't know. He would be a #1 Dman on the current Oilers roster though...

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#23 Ghost
June 30 2014, 06:03PM
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Nobody wants our dead weight, before fans or canucks army post some articles talk to knowledgeable fans of other teams just to see. Most of them will tell you we dont want your left overs, go bother someone else.

Also benning and the team have more things on there plate then to play fantasy gm like canucks army and try to shop jordan schroeder.

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#24 Ghost
June 30 2014, 06:27PM
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Its also easy for us to sit here and type a number in and say just qualify him. Its not our money. Eventually gm's evaluate this and ask is this player worth the money, what is his value, and is it worth our time and resources to spend shopping him.

Obviously canucks did that analysis and felt he did not warrant a Qualifying offer.

Like many other teams that cut ties with draft picks without continually trying to shop them for a 7th round pick, teams eventually do decide its not always worth the time, trouble, or money.

Hell nashville didnt even qualify MDZ.

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