Last time, I continued my campaign of torment of Marco Rossi by making him the guy who every GM finds a reason not to take. Will he get drafted this time? We’ll see. The story so far:
Florida is up first in today’s version of the mock mock draft. If you’re new, this isn’t a BPA draft list, or my choices or what I think the teams should do. This is my take on what the teams actually picking might do, given who they are, what their biases are, and how likely they are to agree with the zeitgeist on who to take. I’m using Bob McKenzie’s list as the jumping off point, and with the exception of Marco Rossi falling down, down, down, I’m on track with McKenzie’s order.
The deeper you go, the more differences of opinion become completely valid. So add those to the biases and desires for quick fixes by GMs, and anything can happen as you head for the centre of the draft — pick 15. The teams picking in this area are usually not really bad, but they also want to improve, and picking in the middle is not really the best way to do that.
Florida just did an interesting thing, or should I say “interesting”. First they hired Bill Zito from Columbus as their GM, and then he hired Paul Fenton and Fenton’s son to aid him in scouting. Fenton Jr. ran Minnesota’s draft last year, and yes, Paul Fenton is the man who famously told everyone how much he likes taller draft prospects. On the other hand, he then added Rick Dudley, the Hurricane’s VP of Hockey Ops who was let go recently, likely in a cost-cutting move.
Are the Panthers going to take Rossi, then? Is Dudley enough to outvote the Fentons? I doubt it. I think they’ll reach a little and take a defenceman, but guessing what a new management and scouting team will do is throwing darts in the dark. Florida has Aaron Ekblad and the mistake of Michael Matheson under contract with term, and then they have two guys about to be 35 in Keith Yandle and Anton Stalman. Their “young” defensive phenom Leafs fans covet for some reason is the 26-year-old Mackenzie Weegar. They took a defender in the second and third rounds last year, but last took one in the first round when they drafted Ekblad.
The choices are Kaiden Guhle at 14 on McKenzie’s list and Braden Schneider at 17. It wouldn’t actually surprise me if the lovers of tall teenagers went for Schneider, who is big as well as 6-2. But I think they’ll take Guhle and leave the Jets asking themselves why they didn’t.
Marco just wilted a little in his living room, and then noticed who picks next and perked right up.
Next up is the Carolina Hurricanes, and you know what they’ll do. Rossi finally has a home, and the Leafs fans’ hearts are torn out and left lying on the ground. As per.
The Oilers pick right before the Leafs, and they’re really hard to pin down. What is Ken Holland going to do there? I’m not sure what his vision was in tanking the job beyond still being a GM in the NHL. Edmonton wants and needs forwards, there are lots of them is this tier of draft prospects. Edmonton doesn’t need a centre and won’t for some time, they want goals from the wing. Dawson Mercer? A strong possibility. Dylan Holloway? Also a good possibility. But what about Seth Jarvis? He’s in the WHL, is a zippy little winger, and he can score and set up his linemates. I think he’s their type.
Now that I’ve mock drafted 14 players, I’ve left Kyle Dubas poised to do what a lot of “experts” think he should do: Take big ‘ole Braden Schneider, the all-assists defender who is the size of Jake Muzzin but still a kid. He would fill the hunger for traditional, conservative hockey choices. I bet he has snarl and grit. I bet he’s the sort of player that Brian Burke will tell you the Leafs need on every Sportsnet panel for the rest of the playffs. I bet he’s slow... actually, let’s get some facts on Schneider instead of guessing.
By the way, did you know the saying “on the schneid” however you want to spell it, is an old saying that is based on the name Schneider? Now you do. And lest I be accused of bias in talking about Schneider like I expect him to be a loser, it’s also my grandparents’ surname.
Everything about Schneider screams out overrated. He’s a tall defender in the WHL, which has this unexamined reputation of producing better defencemen; he’s filled out already at over 200 lbs, and he nearly doubled his points last season over his rookie year. (Don’t pay any attention to how they’re all assists.)
On the other hand, he’s likely to be underrated by the counterculture of amateur draft rankers who want to see small, mobile defenders get their due. Just because you’re countering an existing bias, doesn’t make you right. Lots of those small players who aren’t drafted very high are actually just not very good, and lots of big players (like Auston Matthews) are actually rather excellent. Biases affect populations, but can’t always be assumed to be in play with individuals.
Let’s try to pretend we’ve never heard of cousin Braden, and see who he really is.
He is about to turn 19, so he’s got a late season birthday. This is a weird inverse bias for drafting. As Schneider has gone through his life as an elite hockey player, he’s nearly always been the youngest player on his team since minor hockey uses calendar year cutoffs. But, once he’s in the NHL Entry Draft, with its September 15 cutoff, he’s one of the oldest players in the draft and the expectation of observers is that he’s bigger and more developed than his peers. This is likely not terribly valid for 18 and 19 year olds. It is more likely true that, when he was 12, he was less mature than his teammates than it is that he’s overgrown now because of a few months in age. He’s overgrown because he’s naturally a big guy.
He’s from Prince Albert Saskatchewan, played his youth hockey there, and then was not drafted by the Raiders, instead he went to the Brandon Wheat Kings. He has worn an A there for a year, and no one will be shocked if he ends up a captain at some point. He had three points in seven games at the WJC-18 in 2019, and you should expect him to be a no-brainer pick for the WJC this winter, should that actually happen.
Schneider plays with a nice collection of forwards, several NHL-drafted players and one decently rated prospect for this draft in Ridly Greig, but it’s more the total number of scoring forwards that helped him almost double his points rather than one obvious player on the team driving the box cars.
All About the Jersey does draft profiles every year that I read with relish, since they do a good job of distilling down the zeitgeist.
They talk about Schneider being big, physical and having more WHL experience (3 years) than is usual. They also post his rankings from various sources (their article dates from April):
Where is Schneider Ranked?
Braden Schneider’s location in the rankings varies from service to service and it seems to largely hinge on what you think of his offensive upside. If he can put together a solid offensive game in the NHL, he has legitimate top-pairing or even #1 defenseman potential as a player. If not, he may settle in as more of stay-at-home defensive specialist, which can of course be valuable, but is tough to justify spending a pick on in the upper portions of the first round.
#9 — NHL Central Scouting - NA Skaters (Final)
#14 — HockeyProspect.com (January)
#13 — ISS Hockey (March)
#27 — Future Considerations (March)
#41 — The Draft Analyst (March)
#14 — TSN-MacKenzie (Midseason)
#25 — TSN-Button (March)
#46 — EliteProspects.com (February)
The current McKenzie list has him at 17th, Elite Prospects has moved him up to 34th, Future Considerations to 21st and NHL Central Scouting had him ninth for North American skaters.
He’s gone up a bit, but is ranked higher by more traditional thinkers than by mavericks. Nothing there is a surprise. The story on him centres around his defensive abilities, and not just his ability to physically defend the crease. He’s said to be a good passer, and good at gap control, and the article linked above has his coach comparing him to Ryan Pulock, likely the quintessential underrated defensive defender of the NHL, and the player I most covet for the Leafs after Alex Pietrangelo and Dougie Hamilton.
I’ll admit to some skepticism about Schneider having these brainy skills. This is often the line on defencemen who get big at a young age. You might remember a certain meme about Mark Hunter’s large adult sons? A lot of those guys turned out to be just big players in junior hockey.
No one seems to have a complaint about Schneider, though. He’s not knocked for his skating or his offensive game. No one is calling him slow. And yet, there’s rankings into the second round. Is this biases? Over-correction of biases? A desire to see every defender have a great slapper or else he should go away? I don’t know, but Schneider is more meme than reality on both sides of hockey’s cultural divide now.
Here’s some other opinions:
The PPP mock mock draft list
- New York Rangers - Alexis Lafreniere
- Los Angeles Kings - Tim Stutzle
- Ottawa Senators - Quinton Byfield
- Detroit Red Wings - Cole Perfetti
- Ottawa Senators - Jamie Drysdale
- Anaheim Ducks - Lucas Raymond
- New Jersey Devils - Yaroslav Askarov
- Buffalo Sabres - Jake Sanderson
- Minnesota Wild - Anton Lundell
- Winnipeg Jets - Jack Quinn
- Nashville Predators - Alexander Holtz
- Florida Panthers - Kaiden Guhle
- Carolina Hurricanes - Marco Rossi
- Edmonton Oilers - Seth Jarvis
- Toronto Maple Leafs - ???
- Montréal Canadiens
- Chicago Blackhawks
- New Jersey Devils
- Calgary Flames
- New Jersey Devils
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New York Rangers
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Colorado Avalanche
- Washington Capitals
Leafs are up next, and what will I have them do? Good question. I haven’t got an answer yet, so tell me, given this situation, what would you do?