CA Prospect Profiles: Jordan Schroeder

Entering the 2009 NHL Draft, and coming off a lights-out WCHA rookie campaign – Jordan Schroeder was ranked as the fifth best North American skater by Central Scouting. Schroeder’s speed and offensive skills were highly regarded, however, concerns about his size (or lack thereof) caused him to plummet down into the latter half of the first round, where Mike Gillis snapped him up with the 22nd overall pick. By the time Schroeder was drafted, 15 other North American skaters had been picked. It looked like the Canucks had a potential steal on their hands.

Since the 08-09 season, Jordan Schroeder has regressed significantly. In the minds of some critics, he has gone from a possible "steal" to a potential "bust." This over-wrought sort of fan analysis is way too premature – Schroeder is still young, he’ll only turn twenty-one later this month – but his recent performance is legitimately troubling. 

Lets look at his NHL equivalency, based on Gabe Desjardin’s league translation numbers:

2008-09 35 13 32 45 28 70 98 12 31 43
2009-10  37 9 19 28 19 39 58 8 17 25
2010-11 61 10 18 28 n/a n/a n/a 6 10 16

If you want to understand why perception about Jordan Schroeder’s ceiling as a professional hockey player has plummeted – look no further than the above chart. Even though we should qualify that Schroeder was nearly a point per game player in a 17 game AHL cameo in 2009-10 – it’s pretty clear that his production has diminished significantly since his draft year. To see a young player, whose only path to the NHL is as a scoring, top-six forward, regress like this has to be troubling for Canucks brass.

Prospect guru Corey Pronman of puckprospectus, listed Jordan Schroeder as the fifth best Canucks prospect on his top-10 list. Here’s what he had to say about Schroeder’s potential:

Schroeder is an above-average to plus skater with a great first step, he has shifty feet that give him a very elusive and agile aspect to his game, and he has a desirable top gear. He’s a plus handler of the puck who can control a game well from the sideboards, as he has the skills and especially the vision to make plays and create chances for his teammates. Schroeder has great in-tight abilities with the puck as he can show some impressive deking abilities and is also dangerous in full flight as he can handle the puck pretty well at top speed. He has a solid shot as well, and while he’s more of a pass-first type of player, he can certainly be a decent goal-scorer.

His physical game is about as bad as you’re going to find. Schroeder is a pint-sized player who doesn’t attack the physical areas much, is easily overwhelmed when it comes to battles along the boards, and can have the puck stripped off of him without much effort at times. He likely will have to be pushed off to wing permanently, although when he was tried at wing this season, he struggled more so than when he played center. [Schroeder] has average second line forward upside but there’s also a chance that he may never become a league regular as well.

Perhaps all those GMs who passed on Schroeder knew what they were doing – certainly Gillis and co. were hoping they’d found more than just an "average second line forward" with the 22nd overall pick. But as we said earlier, Schroeder is still young, and his skating and shooting ability still hint at a wealth of potential that young Mr. Schroeder still has time to access.

One thing I notice when looking at Schroeder’s stats last season, is that he really doesn’t shoot the puck as much as a potential "sniper" with a "solid-shot" should. He only averaged 1.42 shots per game last season, and though he shot for a reasonable percentage (8.7%) – I’d guess that’s a big factor explaining his relative lack of production last season.

With the Canucks prospects tournament opening this weekend in Penticton, and camp opening the following week, Jordan Schroeder has a tremendous opportunity to change perceptions about his progress with a strong showing over the next three to four weeks. With a stellar prospects tourney, and a productive camp and pre-season – Jordan Schroeder could well re-establish himself as one of the organization’s top prospects.

A year working with Craig MacTavish – who is well regarded for his ability to develop young players – in Chicago could also do wonders for Schroeder. If the Canucks are lucky Jordan Schroeder will begin to put it together in a big way this season, and personally I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Schroeder’s SOG totals. With his skill-level, if he takes a higher volume of shots,  the results will surely come.

Here’s his Moose highlights package. Clearly he just needs to use that wicked shot more!