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.