-- Team disappointment aside, the 2009 World Junior Championship has been a beneficial experience for U.S. forward Jordan Schroeder
Tabbed a player to watch for scouts evaluating talent for the 2009 Entry Draft, Schroeder has lived up to the advance billing. He entered Sunday's fifth-place game against the Czech Republic leading the U.S. team and third among all players in the tournament with 11 points, and his 8 assists are tied with teammate Kevin Shattenkirk
for second in the tournament.
"I thought I've played well throughout the tournament," Schroeder told NHL.com. "Our line (Schroeder, James van Riemsdyk
and Colin Wilson
) has played well. I'm playing with great players. I think they helped me produce some points out there and I appreciate it."
It's a road that's run in both directions, as Schroeder has helped others as much as he's helped himself.
"He's a dynamic player for us, a difference-maker," said U.S. coach Ron Rolston. "He's got great speed, he can score goals, he's got a good release on his shot."
It's a shot that Schroeder believes he needs to use more. In 16 games this season as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, he's second on the team with 7 goals, but his 38 shots are just seventh. Through five games at the World Juniors, he's tied for second on the team with 3 goals, but his nine shots ranks him 12th.
"I think I could shoot a little more," said Schroeder. "My dad, people around me, my coaches, they all say I have to shoot because I always look for the pass there. I think I've done an OK job when I get in the slot trying to let it rip."
His shot attempts might be up for debate, but scouts certainly have been impressed from what they've seen.
"He has outstanding puck skill and passing abilities," said NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards. "He moved the puck through traffic with great passes. He sees the ice very well, very good hands. He has 11 points in five games, so I would say he has performed well.
"Jordan has an excellent shot and high-end playmaking abilities. He's performed just fine."
"Everybody knew he was a top pick and he came here and kind of solidified that," added Red Wings Assistant General Manager Jim Nill. "He's shown he's one of the top players not only in his draft year, but as an under-20 player he's one of the top players here. You can come to this tournament and help yourself or hurt yourself, and he's come here and showed he's legitimate top player."
He's been a top player at center and wing; Schroeder (5-foot-8, 175 pounds) plays center at Minnesota, but has played mostly on the wing during the tournament.
"The last game I dabbled a bit (using him) in the middle," said Rolston, "but he can do either. … He's good on faceoffs. He's taken a lot of faceoffs on that line even when he was playing with Colin Wilson
His skill in the circle also stood out to Edwards, who believes Schroeder projects as a center in the NHL, rather than a wing.
"The game against Canada he beat (John) Tavares twice late in the game in the face-off circle," said Edwards. "Canada had to put (Cody) Hodgson in for the third draw."
For his part, Schroeder isn't concerned with where he plays, nor is he overly concerned about the Draft. He's reached out to friends who have gone through the process, including van Riemsdyk (No. 2 to Philadelphia in 2007) and Wilson (No. 7 to Nashville in 2008).
"I've talked to them, talked to buddies of mine that have gone through it," said Schroeder. "They said don't even focus on it. Don't worry about it until the day comes. That's what I've been trying to do, keep it out of my mind and play hockey."
And he's done that very well.
"He's got a good all-round game," said Nill. "He sees the ice well, he shoots well, passes well. He's just a good player."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.