Braden Schneider eyes ‘great opportunity’ with Rangers

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in his young career, Braden Schneider is looking to make big strides this offseason for the New York Rangers.

At just 22 years old, the defenseman has now played three seasons with the Rangers, including 43 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s spent most of his time on the Rangers’ third defensive pairing, but started to earn more second-pair minutes this season, particularly when Jacob Trouba sustained a broken ankle in March. Schneider’s average time on ice this season was 15:53, up 25 seconds since his rookie campaign. In the playoffs, he averaged 17:32.

“I think this year, with the staff we’ve got, I felt like I’ve learned a ton,” Schneider explained. “I feel like I’ve gained a ton of confidence. I’ve had a great opportunity. I just have to make sure I keep building on my game.”

Schneider has exhibited steady growth throughout his first three campaigns with the Rangers. He earned 11 points in 43 games his rookie year, followed by 18 points in 81 games last season, and 19 points in all 82 games this season. It is his defensive game, however, that has showed signs of maturing.

He was third on the Rangers with 34 blocked shots in the postseason and eighth with 32 hits. There’s a reason he’s called “Baby Trouba.”

The goal now, is for the young defenseman to take that next step. If he can do that, he could potentially find himself in the top-4 on a consistent basis.

“There’s levels that I want to find still,” Schneider said. “There’s still a lot of growth and a lot of learning to go. I’m looking forward to getting there and coming back here and continuing to grow as a player.”

Related: Kaapo Kakko’s future with Rangers big question this offseason

Braden Schneider says Rangers’ playoff loss ‘stings even more’ this year

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

To gain the experience that Schneider has at such a young age is incredibly valuable, but he knows that the goal is not experience, it is to win. For Schneider, losing in the conference final for the second time in his career is not something he wants to keep reliving.

“I felt like that first run (in 2022) I learned a lot,” said Schneider. “Still sucks falling short. This year I felt my role grew. When you play more, you feel like you’re more involved in things. It stings even more. This year we had a great group of guys, everyone has played well. When you fall short, it hurts.”

Taking things into the off season, Schneider will head home to Saskatchewan and look to improve in all areas of his game. The goal is to come back in September ready to make that jump, and earn himself a larger role on the team.

“I want to get bigger, I want to get faster, I want to come back next year with the confidence I left off with here at the end of the year. I want to improve my skill set, improve my shot, basically try and get better in every facet,” Schneider said with a laugh.

All jokes aside, Schneider has a great opportunity here with the Rangers. He is young, a first-round pick (2020), has a good amount of experience already, and a very high ceiling that he can hopefully reach.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette has already experimented with the second pairing of Schneider and K’Andre Miller, including for several games in the playoffs. As the two defenseman continue to grow and mature, it is likely that they will become a mainstay pairing. Perhaps as soon as next season.

Schneider is one three restricted free agents on New York’s roster. Since he’s coming off his entry-level contract, his should be the simplest deal to get done. Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Lindgren present bigger challenges for the front office.

But all that Schneider needs to focus on right now is preparing to take that next big step on the Rangers defense corps next season.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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