Brad Schell was a sixth round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. The 6’1 center played four years in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs, where last season he scored 92 points in 71 games.
Schell signed with the Thrashers this summer and is assigned to the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators, where he is the youngest player on the team. He scored his first professional goal on November 9, 2004 against Phil Osaer of the Texas Wildcatters, giving him six points on the season.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Schell on Sunday following the Gladiators practice.
HF: You scored your first pro goal this week, that must have been pretty exciting.
BS: Yeah, I had chances before, but I couldn’t seem to bury it. But I got more and more chances and finally it went in.
HF: And then you had the shootout goal to win it.
BS: Yep, that was also exciting. We shouldn’t have gotten to the shootout in the first place, but…getting the first goal and winning the shootout that night was pretty special.
HF: The goals were almost the same play too.
BS: Yeah, it was kind of the same move, I tried to deke the goalie out a different way — get in his head a little bit.
HF: Do you think the shootout format favors you?
BS: Hmm, actually I think it does because I think our goaltending is solid enough that we trust our goaltending and we have enough skill on our team to go out and win shootouts. I think we’ve lost more than we’ve won, but I’d definitely take our goalies and our team over any team in the league.
HF: How about you in particular, does the shootout agree with you?
BS: Oh yeah. I think so there too because I’m a skill guy and on breakaways I feel confident that I’m going to score.
HF: How do you feel like your season has gone overall so far?
BS: Not bad, kind of up and down. I think getting used to it at the start was a big step for me, going up from juniors. Playing against kids and now playing against men. I think I’ve adapted pretty quickly and it’s going good so far, just need to continue to play hard.
HF: What do you think has been the toughest part of the adjustment?
BS: Probably just the strength of the guys going into the corner. You can’t just use your stick, you have to get good body position and try to outsmart them better. Like I said, you’re going in against men in the corners, not against boys anymore. Also quickness I think. Passes have to be on and you can’t afford to take a shift off or else you’ll get a goal scored against you.
HF: How much do you weigh right now?
BS: Like 180, 185.
HF: What do you think would be a good playing weight for you?
BS: Probably around 190-195 I think. I mean, I don’t want to get too big too fast, but definitely I need to get stronger and that’s what Chicago and Atlanta are looking at me to do. I had a good summer last year and it’s just due to numbers I’m not in Chicago I think. I’ve just got to continue to work hard off the ice here too and gain that strength and have a big summer next year and go in to make the team next year.
HF: How much do you think coming to the Thrashers prospect camps helped you?
BS: I think a lot, just getting used to everything. There’s good guys from all over the world, actually, here and the pace is really fast and just getting to know the guys too, getting to know the organization is really good.
HF: Would you say there’s been any change in your role coming from juniors to this year?
BS: Nothing really I don’t think. I was a skill player and they counted on me to score goals in junior and I think coming here it’s the same idea. I’m not going to be a fourth liner in any league so I have to make the top two, three lines to be a player. I think that’s what they’re counting on me to do and here there’s probably more responsibility on defense too, but I’m confident in my defensive game. I think it’s the same kind of role.
HF: Can you talk about your linemates this year, I know the lines have changed some.
BS: Yeah, quite a bit. It’s tough, you’ve got to get chemistry. It’s the start of the season, we’re only 10 games in. Right now I’m with Mikey (Mike Stathopoulos) and Brownie (Cam Brown). That seems good, I think me and Mikey have a lot of chemistry together and Brownie works hard for us. I think that will be a good line down the road a little bit. It’s just tough getting chemistry right away.
HF: In juniors you had an injury-wrecked season (2002-03), can you describe what happened?
BS: I had back surgery at the start of the season, I had a herniated disk. And then I came back, maybe a little bit too early. It was kind of frustrating and just a struggle. But things got rolling and then I tore my MCL in my knee and I was out for the season supposedly because I needed surgery, then they found out I didn’t. I came back just at playoffs time. I don’t know, all in all, just to erase that season, it was bad – bad luck and just wasn’t a good one.
HF: Were you ever worried about your career?
BS: No, no, I kept my head up and I had a lot of support from my family and friends. Just get healthy and it will work out. After my injuries and after the season, I dedicated the summer to working out and went in the next year and had a great year. I was confident that I could do everything that I could do (before).
HF: You must have played against (Braydon) Coburn a good bit in the US Division of the WHL. What was he like to play against?
BS: Yep, quite a bit. He’s a big guy to play against and he’s one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s so big and he’s so strong and quick. You’ve got to really battle hard against him because if you don’t, he’ll push you right over. Yeah, we saw him about eight, nine times a year and he’s a really good defenseman.
HF: Did you beat him once or twice?
BS: Oh yeah, a couple times (laughing). Whacked him a few times, got whacked a few times (laughing). No, it was all good. You know, friends off the ice, but once you get on the ice you can’t be friends with someone. We had a little rivalry with Portland there. It was good though, he’s a good guy.
HF: I guess you didn’t see (Lane) Manson as much since he was in another division.
BS: No, just a couple games. I didn’t really see him too much. I think one game we played them he might have even been hurt.
HF: You started high school in Canada and then I guess finished up in the US?
BS: I started in the US and then ended up coming back to Saskatchewan to graduate. The WHL has a school consultant who fixes all the classes, so I took in Spokane the second semester what would work for me coming back to my high school in Wilkie so I could graduate back home with all my friends. That’s what most of the guys do. It’s good that way. I know some guys stay down in the States to graduate, but it was really special to graduate with all my friends and all the people I grew up with.
HF: So which is harder, high school in Canada or the US?
BS: I think in Canada. Yeah, I had some good marks coming back from the US, but they didn’t end up so good (laughing). But we got a little lenience in the US too, so… but it was OK, learning about US history and stuff like that.
HF: How do you like living in Gwinnett?
BS: Good, it’s a great place. It’s kind of weird getting used to going to the rink in shorts and flip flops (laughing), but I don’t know, it’s a good place. The fans are excellent here and where we live is great, we live with the guys. We’re close to the mall, so there’s great restaurants and stuff. I like it here.
HF: What are your goals for this season?
BS: I don’t really set goals like for points, but just to go out and battle every day, get more consistent. The points will come I think, you’ve got to just keep working hard. That’s basically the goal, just be consistent. Go out and play every game no matter if it’s the third game in three nights or first game, whatever. Just go out every day and battle hard, that’s the goal.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.