Kingston, RI – One big hit and then another big hit, and here’s Braden Schneider’s ‘Little Kids’ wiped out.
“Yes, there is a resemblance, obviously I can see that from his physical play and his losing,” Big Troubs, Jacob Trouba himself, told The Post before the Rangers embarked on their three-day bonding journey to this tower. “But more than that, it’s his attitude.
“He’s laid-back and kind of a goof. He comes into the room every day with a smoothie and a smile on his face. That’s what I see most that reminds me of my younger self.”
“It’s not like I’m happy to be here, that’s not all,” said the 28-year-old Blueshirts captain, who broke into the NHL at the age of 19 regularly on the blue streak with Winnipeg. “For me, I was very happy to come to the rink every day and play hockey.
“I feel like he has the same look. He seems happy all the time. He’s a contagious attitude. He’s young, everything is ahead of him, and he doesn’t take anything for granted. I agree with that and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s important for our team – any team – get that.”
The pingpong-ball twins up front – 2019’s Kabu Kaku and 2020’s Alexis Lavrinier – are trying to establish their entry points for seasons four and three, respectively. But the little guys on the back end – Adam Fox, Candre Miller and Schneider – They applied their stamp to the team basically from day one.
Of course, these defensemen were not and were not end products either upon arrival or at present. There is room for growth for all three. But they all showed an uncommon poise outside the gate. None more so than Schneider, who looked like a veteran beyond his years and experience starting with his first National Hockey League game, Jan. 3 in San Jose at the age of 20, having spent the first half of his first professional season with the AHL Wolf Pack.
“Last year when he was sent off early, it was just so he could improve and become the good young player we know he will be,” said coach Gerard Gallant. “When he came, we didn’t think he’d stay for the rest of the year.
“But it’s like I always say, ‘Come over here, make a good impression and we’ll want you to stay. “That’s what Schneids did. When he was called up, we weren’t planning on keeping him here. But the way he played made us keep him. That’s what we like to see from our young players.
“This year he’s come back bigger and stronger,” the coach said. “He is really confident there. We really like him.”
Schneider confidence is part of the package. He grabbed that spot on the right side of the third pair and never let it go, playing in all but two of the club’s last 45 games in the regular season before becoming a staple in the playoffs.
The 19th overall pick for the 2020 draft, for which then-GM Jeff Gorton sacrificed a third manager in order to raise three picks, not only seemed to always belong, he thought he belonged.
Because when he was asked last week if he had any doubts that he belonged in the NHL, the answer was short and direct.
The answer was “no”.
Or, of course, the answer was accompanied by a smile.
“He had that confidence from the start but there is no arrogance in that,” said Trouba. “He wants to get better, he’s working on getting better. The more reps, the more self-confidence he has. He’s strong and has a lot of positives.”
Sneijder scored a goal on his first National Hockey League appearance before finishing with 11 points (2-9) in 43 games. He’s been above the ice, and may have joined the rush more often this preseason than he had a year ago while pairing more often with the Offensively talented Zach Jones.
“I think there is a focus at the team level to get up in the region without taking too many risks,” Schneider said. “Playing with Jonesy, I’m just trying to keep up with it and make space for him to find me.
“But I do think I have an offensive component in my game. I don’t think this is necessarily overlooked even though I know my body is the first thing that comes to mind about my game. I have confidence in my shot and my ability to create attack.”
Rangers need to become a more productive five-by-five team, but that doesn’t necessarily entail Schneider leading forays into the region. They need a sophomore to be a reliable force at their end.
No. 45 said: “My goal, other than making up the team, is to be a player who can be trusted in all situations. We have many talented young defenders in this organization and it is exciting to be a part of it.”