Defenseman Braden Schneider gets a chance for Rangers
SAN JOSE, CA — If the Rangers are in the market for a financially right defensive man to skate their third pair, due diligence must be done within the organization before sacrificing assets in order to get one in a bargain.
That’s the primary reason the Blueshirts are about to test 20-year-old Braden Schneider, who was called up by the AHL Wolf Pack on Tuesday in a places swap with Nils Lundkvist.
In fact, far from lining up in Wednesday’s training, it looks like Sneijder will make his NHL debut Thursday night against the Sharks. His stay is entirely due to the young Saskatchewan that the former regime swapped for 19th overall in 2020 with Hendrix Lapierre and Conor Zare on the plate.
“Whether it’s short-term or long-term, I’m just trying to take every opportunity I have,” said Schneider, who skied the right-hand side of the showdown with Patrick Nemeth. “Whether it’s in training or in a game, I’m just going to go and do what I do best.
“I want to show that I can play at this level and I want to show that I belong here. So if I can continue to improve my game every day, I think the main goal is still to try to improve by 1 per cent every day and keep a positive mindset while to do that “.
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Sneijder’s mentality must be bolstered by being behind the bench for Hartford coach Chris Knoblush, who is co-infected with COVD-positive Gerard Gallant. Knoblauch was also with Schneider for an extended period last year before the start of the late WHL season. There is a history of mutual admiration and trust.
“Braden has been a very good player for us at Hartford,” Knoblauch said. “I think he was a very good defensive player. He is an incredible skater and for his age he is very strong. I think one of the things that players have a hard time coming into the National Hockey League is eliminating play, and that’s like taking a guy off the puck, separating him and then getting into the next play .
“Braden is young but I think that’s something Braden will be able to make this transfer a lot easier than other players whenever he gets the chance to do it.”
When asked which game could be comparable, Schneider said when the same question appeared during his introductory interviews with teams, he answered by dropping the name Shea Weber. Rangers will probably take it.
“Maybe I don’t have as strong a shot as he did but I think [of myself] For just being a strong and reliable defensive man who can play both sides of the ice. The main thing is to take care of the base of the house and your own end. I like to be hard on guys and close guys as fast and hard as I can, and in doing that, I like to turn the disc quickly and make a good first pass.
“I’m not very offensively flashy, but I like to think I’m working hard on my end and start playing as fast as I can.”
Gallant clearly believed that defensive men with large bodies and inclinations were the requirements for success. This philosophy has been supported by recent seasons that have been marked by endless clothes around the net. It’s also likely to benefit Schneider at least a bit that he appointed Galant as his head coach with Team Canada at the World Championships last year.
“I got to know him very well. He was a very tight team in the bubble [in Latvia] Schneider said of the team that won the gold medal despite losing the first three games. “I was always talking to Gerrard and we built a very strong relationship.”
Lundkvist is temporarily gone but hardly forgotten. The 21-year-old Swede will have a great time playing with the Wolf Pack which should include a mission in his first power game. Rangers have other options for the inner right side in the third pair, but neither Zach Jones nor Lepor Hajek have the physical attributes the staff are looking for. Moving Nemeth to the right is not a great alternative.
Hence, it was time for Schneider to take a look. No one will mind if it gets too long.