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Schroeder is draft's big little man

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Centre Jordan Schroeder, a standout for Team USA at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, figures to be a high selection in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft next week at the Bell Centre in Montreal (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images).

(Editor's note: This is one in a series of features about prospects who might possibly be available when the Ottawa Senators make the No. 9 selection of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 26-27 in Montreal. Choices are based on rankings by several services, including NHL Central Scouting).

Good things, it’s often been said, come in small packages.

It’s most surely the case for Jordan Schroeder, a 5-foot-8 dynamo from the University of Minnesota who’s considered one of the top prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. What Schroeder lacks in size, he more than makes up for with high-end skill and determination.

“He’s a dynamic player, a leader and the type of player that has developed into a complete offensive and defensive threat every time he is on the ice,” said Jack Barzee of NHL Central Scouting, which has Schroeder rated No. 5 among North American skaters in its final set of player rankings for the 2009 draft.

Chris Edwards, one of Barzee’s colleagues at Central Scouting, raved about Schroeder’s “outstanding puck skill and passing abilities” during the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa, where Schroeder racked up a team-leading 11 points in five games for the United States.

“Jordan has an excellent shot and high-end playmaking abilities,” Edwards added.

It’s a shot, Schroeder admits, that he should use more often. In his freshman season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, he totalled 45 points in 35 games – 32 of them assists.

“I think I could shoot a little bit more,” Schroeder, 18, of Lakeville, Minn., told “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 okay job when I get in the slot trying to let it rip.”

When it comes to evaluating Schroeder, though, it’s hard to keep his size out of the discussion. But that’s hardly been a detriment to some of the little big men now tearing up the National Hockey League. Consider, for example, the exploits of 5-foot-10 Patrick Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who is a budding superstar with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“The concern is going to be his overall size, like there was with Scott Gomez (of the New York Rangers), with Brian Gionta (New Jersey Devils) and with Patrick Kane,” said Barzee. “But at the same age, he is probably a little thicker (175 pounds) and a little bit more compact than they were. He’s a great hockey player.”

Added Minnesota head coach Don Lucia: “Jordan has a good, strong base, which makes him hard to knock off the puck. He’s strong physically throughout his body. He’s got what you’d call a good hockey body.”

"He’s a dynamic player, a leader and the type of player that has developed into a complete offensive and defensive threat every time he is on the ice ... He’s a great hockey player." - Jack Barzee
Opinion varies among scouts about Schroeder’s standing in this draft. International Scouting Services rates him 14th overall, while The Hockey News has him at ninth – the exact position the Ottawa Senators will pick when the opening round of the 2009 draft is held June 26 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Lucia, for one, wouldn’t pass on the chance to grab the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s rookie of the year.

“(Schroeder) has the whole package,” he said. “He’s been an elite player for three years now, but I think he will continue to become a better player at every facet of the game. He has an exceptional head for the game. His hockey sense is elite – he has that great, great hockey sense.

“He’s extremely motivated and he wants to be a take-charge guy.”

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