Meet the New York Rangers “other” first round pick, Braden Schneider

The New York Rangers had two first-round draft picks on Tuesday night. After selecting Alexis Lafreniere with the first overall pick, the Rangers traded up to not only snipe their arch-rival New Jersey Devils but to select a “gritty” and a “throwback” style defenseman in Braden Schneider.

With a late birthday (September 20, 2001) Schneider is one of the older players in the 2020 NHL Draft class, which has given him the opportunity to play three full seasons with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Since 2017, Schneider has steadily improved and focused on rounding out his game.

According to the Western Hockey League’s draft profile, Schneider says that he tries to model his game, best he can, after the likes of former WHL star Shea Weber, already a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, and Alex Pietrangelo. NHL Central Scouting has said his current comparable is Weber, which is a pretty good indicator he is succeeding and well on his way to being that guy who “is going to play in the NHL for a long time,” as one scout stated.

“He has a great physical game, he’s a great defensive player,” said Ryan Kennedy, Senior Writer for The Hockey News. “What I like about Schneider is he plays a pro game. He’s almost kind of a safe pick. You look at him and you say, ‘Yeah, that is a kid who is going to play in the NHL for a long time. He has 15 years written all over him.’ Big body, skates well. He has some offense to his game, but he’s more of a penalty kill guy, really. But he is strong.”

“I’m a two-way physical defenseman,” Schneider said. “I take a lot of pride in my own end and in being a guy who’s hard to play against and in your face, and if the opportunity comes to make a good pass or jump up in the play or get a shot on net, I’m more than willing to take it. So, a two-way guy who looks for holes and tries punishing you when I can.”

This is something that the Rangers were looking for, especially after the quick and early exit against Carolina in the qualifying round.

The WHL draft profile also mentions that Schneider has logged significant time with Hockey Canada. He captained Canada White at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge before then earning a gold medal with Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, chipping in with three points (2G-1A) in seven outings, logging a plus-9 rating for good measure. In 2019, Schneider was in an evaluation camp for Canada’s entry into the 2020 World Junior Championship but found himself on the outside looking in as one of the final cuts from the roster.

However, don’t look for him too soon. Schneider will likely spend one more year in Juniors in order to develop full NHL skills. The WHL is hoping to resume on December 4. He is also expected to be on the Team Canada roster at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton.