2021-22 Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (#24)
Date of Birth: Sept 21, 2003
Place of Birth: Spruce Grove, AB, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 214 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 31st (amongst North American Skaters)
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 97th
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 102nd
- Smaht Scouting: 55th
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 79th
- Craig Button’s Rankings: 21st
The Seattle Thunderbirds just finished an incredible season. Despite ultimately falling short in the WHL Final against the Edmonton Oil Kings, the T-Birds had a season to remember. Not only did they win the WHL’s Western Conference, they have two players that should hear their name called early in the upcoming NHL Draft. One is defenseman Kevin Korchinski. The other is late-rising power-forward Reid Schaefer.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
But when we say rise, Schaefer was not only one of the fastest risers in the draft, he made one of the most significant jumps in the draft rankings according to NHL Central Scouting. When the final list was released, Schaefer jumped 54 spots from 85th to 31st. If we account for his playoff performance, his ranking could be even higher.
Let’s start with a quick recap of his regular season. He finished the season with 32 goals, 19 of which came when the calendar turned to 2022. While known more as a scorer than a playmaker on offense, Schaefer showed his scoring touch in the second half of the season with those 19 goals. Then when the playoffs came, he started to show that he can be a playmaker too. He finished his playoffs with 6-15-21 in 25 games. What stood out to me for him was being able to rise up to meet a big moment.
Locked up in a tight series against their rival the Portland Winterhawks, the Thunderbirds needed someone to step up. Schaefer did just that when it mattered most. He scored three goals and seven points in Games 4-7 of that series to help the Thunderbirds clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals. In game 7 alone, he recorded 1-2-3. He then carried that over to the start of the West Final against Kamloops when he added 1-3-4 in the first three games of that series. That seven-game point streak was a huge catalyst for the Thunderbirds to make a deep run in the playoffs.
So what will teams get if they draft Schaefer? The first and most obvious thing is his size. At already 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, he has the makings of being a power forward. He also has the ability to finish from range which stands out for someone his size. A big man who can score will have a lot of appeal to NHL teams.
As mentioned earlier, he showed some playmaking ability in the playoffs as demonstrated by his 15 helpers. It shows he’s improving in his hockey sense and is also able to get the puck where it needs to go when he doesn’t have a clear lane to shoot.
The questions Schaefer will have to answer start with his skating. It’s not bad but it’s average. This in my mind limits his upside. An improvement here will go a long way in becoming an important contributor on the top-six. Right now, I see a bottom-six forward with some upside who can play physically and add an element to special teams. An important thing here will be the team he lands with and his development. He is still raw in some areas of his game.
Overall, teams who draft Schaefer will get what they hope is the next good power forward to come up the ranks. While he has some intrigue, he also has a lot of room to grow. Time will be needed here but it could be worth it if put in the right situation.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Reid Schaefer — NHL Draft Projection
While most in the industry see Schaefer as a day two pick, it’s worth noting that Craig Button has him listed 21st which would make him a first-round pick. The determining factor seems to be if he can make his potential as a power forward. If he can get his skating to match the other good elements of his game, he could make the team that drafts him look smart. He shouldn’t last past the third round and could go much higher than that.
“As I’ve watched Schaefer, I’ve been able to see glimpses of his full potential. I see a player that, if developed properly, could be a nice complementary winger for a team. He has the size and strength to be a power forward at the NHL level, after all. His skill set at present is very raw, however, so he’ll be a long-term project for whichever team drafts him.” –Matthew Somma, Smaht Scouting
“Schaefer can best be described as a modern-day power forward. He is willing to go to the dirty areas, score goals in-tight, and isn’t one to back down from a physical challenge. Showing promising development, he has scored at a decent rate this season after hardly producing in his first WHL campaign. Hard to miss, the 6-3, 214 pound winger plays a heavy, powerful game and is very tough to play against. Using powerful, long strides, Schaefer is able to get up to speed with the game when he gets his wheels turning, and is agile enough to stay on the forecheck and make quick stops and turns. Combine this with his energy and effort on every shift, and you can see why he is a thorn in the side of his opponents.” –Evan Pace, Dobber Prospects
“Schaefer is a big power forward that loves to shoot the puck and get to the net. He is an above-average skater, but he lacks that extra gear for additional separation needed for additional high danger chances. His ability to use his body to create space for himself and his linemates is what makes him most valuable. He isn’t afraid to use his massive frame to make the opposing defensemen pay.” –Josh Thomas, Future Considerations
- NHL size
- Finishing ability
- Physical play
- Highly competitive
- Work ethic
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Hockey sense
- Defensive consistency
Schaefer’s potential as mentioned earlier is tied to his development. Scouts love the frame and shot but the other elements of his game need refined. If he manages to get it all together, you could have a middle-six power forward at the NHL level. At a minimum, most folks believe he will get to the NHL. That’s good business in the middle rounds.
Risk — 4/5, Reward — 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 7/10, Defense — 6/10
Schaefer was selected to play in the CHL/NHL Top Prospect’s Game in 2022.
Reid Schaefer Statistics
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.