Jordan Schroeder came to the University of Minnesota this fall as one of the most highly touted incoming freshmen and he certainly has not disappointed. The dynamic young forward from Prior Lake, MN has been one of the nation’s most consistent performers thus far, and he has firmly established himself as a very strong candidate for WCHA Rookie of the Year.
Schroeder was recently selected to represent the United States at the upcoming 2009 IIHF U20 World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He is one seven returning players and is once again the youngest member to be donning the red, white and blue.
“Jordan was a key member of the team a year ago as a 17-year-old," said University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia of Schroeder’s selection. "I’m sure that he’s going to be playing the same type of role this year on the top line and being one of their top six forwards.”
Schroeder came to Minnesota after spending two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Last season, he led the team in scoring with 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 55 games. At the U-20 WJC, Schroeder played on Team USA’s stellar top line that also featured University of New Hampshire’s James vanRiemsdyk (PHI) and Boston University’s Colin Wilson (NSH). Schroeder led Team USA with seven assists and finished second on the team in scoring with eight points. Also in 2008, Schroeder helped to lead Team USA to a bronze medal at the U18 WJC.
In 2006-07, Schroeder split time between the NTDP’s U-17 and U-18 teams. In 21 games with the U18 team, he posted 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists). In 35 games with the U17 team, he posted 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists). That same year, Schroeder helped lead Team USA to a U17 silver medal.
Before arriving in Ann Arbor, MI to play with the NTDP, Schroeder played two years at St. Thomas Academy. In his second and final year at St. Thomas in 2005-06, Schroeder guided the Cadets to a Minnesota state high school Class A championship. He led the team as well as the state’s freshmen with 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) in 31 games.
While other WCHA schools such as the University of North Dakota and the University of Wisconsin had showed interest in him, Minnesota had always been at the top of Schroeder’s college wish list.
“I didn’t really give any other school a chance because I knew where I wanted to go all along, which was obviously here," he said. "So when I got that opportunity, I just jumped right on it.”
At 5’9/180, Schroeder isnt’ the biggest freshman in stature, but he may be the most complete. Schroeder is a highly intelligent player that thinks and understands the game exceedingly well. He possesses excellent vision, awareness, and knows where plays will end up. He is instinctive and creative. Schroeder has the ability to make players around him better and his infectious enthusiasm and passion for the game is difficult to miss.
While some may feel that Schroeder’s lack of size could hinder his chances of being a top ten selection at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, he has proven time and again that he is more than capable of competing against bigger and stronger players. Schroeder is remarkably strong on his skates and while he is still growing into his body, the strength that he now has he uses to great advantage. This can be seen in areas such as protecting the puck and his play along the boards. Schroeder has also demonstrated that he can handle the physically punishing aspects of the game as well.
Schroeder is an excellent skater with tremendous speed who is also very good in transition. He is versatile in that he can play both center and wing equally well. He is a superb playmaker with passing skills that are among the best in college hockey today. One aspect that sets him apart from many collegiate rookies is his great patience and poise with the puck.
“He has a very low panic level with the puck,” noted Lucia. “He is not afraid to hold it and hold it and wait for people to get in a position to receive it. When you’re in a position to have a good shot, he’s going to find you.”
Schroeder is also a confident player who works and competes hard. He is the ultimate team player who puts his team first. Schroeder plays the game with a sense of maturity that is rarely seen in college freshmen, especially in the first half of the season.
So how does Schroeder describe himself?
“I would say that I’m an offensive type of player, but I can play both ends of the ice. I can definitely see the ice very well and make my teammates around me better. I would say that I’m more of a playmaker, but I can be a goal scorer too."
Schroeder possesses a terrific shot and can get shots to the net. However, he could stand to shoot the puck more often. Schroeder admits that he has a bit of the pass-first, shoot-second mindset.
“I kind of do, yeah," he said laughing. "But I’m working on changing that though, so I think more will come. That’s one of the things that they have been trying to get me to do is getting more shots on net.”
Lucia thinks Schroder’s shot is underrated.
“I think if you watch him, he can shoot," Lucia said. "He’s still kind of a pass-first type of player, but when he gets into a scoring area, he’s a got very heavy shot.”
One area of Schroeder’s game that continues to progress quite nicely is the defensive side. He sees regular duty on the Golden Gophers penalty-killing unit and has shown that he is also willing to take responsibility in areas such as blocking shots. While it has been a steady learning process for the rookie since his days with the NTDP, it is an area that Schroeder feels is still a work in progress.
“The main things that I got out of the program were that I learned how to become a better defensive player and how to play at both ends of the ice," he said. "I was a pretty offensive guy in high school and never really knew how to play D, but then once I went there I learned a lot more. Now, I’d say that I’m ok, but I obviously could be a lot better. I want to keep improving on that.”
While Sidney Crosby is his favorite NHL player, he would agree on a comparison to a more obscure player.
“I don’t try to pattern my game after any one player. I think it’s more of a combination of players," he said. "I don’t really try to go for style. If I had to pick one, I would say Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the Wild. I think that’s a player that I’m kind of like.”
At the University of Minnesota
Schroeder’s impact at Minnesota has been immediate and it can be seen in his numbers. He currently leads the nation in rookie scoring with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) and points per game by a rookie (1.36). His 12 assists also lead his team. Schroeder has appeared in all 14 games to date. In those 14 games, he has been held pointless in only three of them. He has already posted multiple points in six games. He is also one of Minnesota’s top players on face-offs, having won nearly 55 percent of his draws.
Schroeder centers one of the nation’s most lethal line combinations that also features juniors Ryan Stoa (COL) and Jay Barriball (STL). To date, the trio has accounted for 43 percent of Minnesota’s scoring with a combined 52 points. They have also accounted for half of the team’s entire goal scoring output with a combined 23 goals.
Schroeder sees many similarities in playing with Stoa and Barriball at Minnesota and in playing with vanRiemsdyk and Wilson with Team USA.
“There’s not really too much difference there," he said. "Every one of those players are great players. They all see the ice very well. We make each other better when we’re out there, and we all know how to make plays, so it’s a lot of fun playing with those guys. I think with Ryan and Jay being a little older, they know how to handle themselves in different situations, but at the same time they’re a blast to play with. It’s just so much fun being around them.”
The Prior Lakes, MN native posted his first two collegiate goals, both on the power play, on Nov. 1 versus Minnesota State-Mankato. The outing also earned Schroeder his first of two consecutive WCHA Rookie of the Week honors. His most memorable game to date came on Nov. 21 at Denver, where he posted two goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist to propel the Golden Gophers to a 5-2 victory.
Schroeder is coming off of a stellar November, when he posted 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in nine games that also earned him the HCA’s National Rookie of the Month honor.
Playing in one of the most demanding and tradition-rich environments in all of college hockey, Schroeder understands the importance of not only respecting the tradition, but that wearing the maroon and gold is also a privilege. And it is part of what motives him to be the best player that he can be.
“There’s a lot of tradition and pride here," he said. "It definitely pushes me to be a better player. So I have to look at that and respect that. I think part of that is we have to respect our opponents and try to win every game.”
Schroder also respects Lucia’s approach to coaching.
“He’s a great coach," Schroder began. "During practices, he’ll teach us a lot of small things, but when it comes to the games, he doesn’t say too much. He just kind of lets us play. I think that’s part of the reason why we’re having some success this year.”
“It’s been enjoyable coaching him because when your best players are really good people, it just makes for a better team environment,” Lucia said in return. “When you have those players that are elite and are big team guys, then your team is going to have more success. He’s just a very, very special player. He’s also a great team player too. That’s the nice thing about Jordan. It’s all about team for him. He just wants the team to win and for the team to do well.”
Outlook for the draft
Schroeder is currently the top collegiate player eligible for the 2009 draft. He is projected to go in the first round, and possibly even in the top ten. His performances at the upcoming WJCs will help determine just how early he will be selected.