I've come to the conclusion (premature though it may be) that Schroeder is simply too small to be consistently effective in this league. He can skate, shoot and pass, but he's too easy to knock off the puck and can't drive wide on the faster NHL defencemen. He's too weak on the puck to be a bottom-six checker so I don't see where he'll fit in here long term.
If the kid was three inches taller he'd be a guaranteed top-sixer one day, but he's no St-Louis or Briere and he isn't gritty enough to be a Steve Sullivan. I like that he throws his little body around, but it ain't gonna happen.
That's certainly a premature conclusion, and probably the easier one to make than to say the kid is going to be a successful NHLer.
Being a small guy is certainly not a disadvantage in today's NHL, and as you pointed out, most NHL defencemen are too good to be able to drive wide around consistently.
I have no idea if Schroeder is going to have a NHL career. He still is raw in many respects, but he does seem to think the game well. He doesn't look as shell shocked as man rookies look (i.e. Zack Kassian last year), and for the most part seems confident and mentally ready to play at this level, which to me is a big positive. If he looked tentative out there, then yeah, I'd agree with you that he won't make it.
Most of the things I've heard about Schroeder through the years seem to be true:
- He looks really small out there.
- He's a quick, smooth skater.
- He's a two-way player. He plays both ends of the rink well, and importantly, is strong on the defensive side of the game.
- He seems to have good vision, awareness and anticipation of where the play is going, generally, although he does look lost in the offensive zone at times. Would be great if he could pot a goal in his Minnesota homecoming to get his confidence up.
- He is a hard worker. With his skill level, he needs to be.
- He was always reported as being a very strong (powerful) guy. Strength doesn't look like an issue (at this point).
One thing that has surprised me is that Schroeder has been pretty good along the boards. Hansen's goal last night wouldn't have happened without his work behind the net. Schroeder gets right in there, and several times has taken the puck away from much bigger defenders in tight.
Who knows what happens when Kesler is back, but early on this season, Schroeder's line has generated much more good than bad, which is more than can be said for the other two healthy centres not named Sedin.
People like to focus in on obvious things like size, but the game is much more that that. Aside from the obvious elite level little guys, there are regulary every day players (defencemen even) who are around his size (Derek Roy, Enstrom, Cammallerri, Versteeg, Timonen, Rafalski, Marchand, Desharnais, Ennis, Gerbe), so if he can think the game well, play responsible two way hockey, and work his ass off, things could work out for him.