With their sixth round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Lightning selected left handed defender Quinn Schmiemann from the Kamloops Blazers. By the sixth round, we’re well into the point of the draft where most of the players selected will never play in the NHL and many will never play professional hockey in North America. But as will be a theme with the Lightning’s selections this year, that might not be the case for Schmiemann. He’s an interesting player with real upside.
Schmiemann is 6’2 185 lbs so he has the size that seems to be a priority for the Lightning when drafting defenders. He put up 28 points in 58 games for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. That made him the leading scorer from the blue line on a team that wasn’t particularly good and finished in the bottom third of the WHL this season. It also put him in a tie for second among rookie defenders in the WHL.
For a draft eligible defender, 28 points is solid production. And leading the team is encouraging. But these numbers get significantly more impressive when we add in one factor: age. Schmiemann is young for this class not turning 18 until July 27th. For prospects, age is one of the most important indicators of future success. In that context, Schiemann’s production goes from solid to intriguing. Every year of development is massive for young players and Schmiemann is nearly a full year behind this cohort. That makes his showing in Kamloops more impressive that it appears on the surface.
In terms of scouts opinions, only one of the services we use gave a report. Here’s his excerpt from the Hockey Prospect Black Book.
Schmiemann was quietly effective all season long, making consistent decisions and rarely putting himself in bad positions. Does not immediately jump off the page for any standout tools but the combination of hockey IQ, mobility, and skill allows him to play greater than the sum of his parts. Schmiemann skates well enough, with a solid side that allows him to get up the ice and retrieve pucks in the corner before pressure is right on him. Schmiemann could stand to work on his edgework as he did not show much escape-ability with the puck. Schmiemann rarely found himself in positions where he had to cleanly beat a forechecker as he kept very good positioning to retrieve pucks and often executed passes quickly to open outlets. Very reliable and consistent in his passing, rarely throwing his teammates grenades and mostly hitting tape to tape passes. Offensively lacked dynamism but made some impact thanks to a heavy shot that he often got through traffic, and the basic instincts to make himself available for passes. Schmiemann even was able to play a role on his teams powerplay thanks to his calm and efficient puck distribution. Schmiemann plays a solid positional game defensively, keeping himself in between his man and the net, and rarely losing track off the puck. Was rarely proactive in taking the puck off the opposition, and could use his frame and play with physicality more often.
While that profile doesn’t paint a picture of an offensive dynamo, it also doesn’t raise any red flags. In fact, it sounds like a solid well-rounded defensive blue liner for the modern game.
Putting together all the information we have on Schmiemann paints an interesting picture, especially for a sixth round pick. He has enough production to suggest he has a professional future. Half of a point per game as a draft eligible doesn’t suggest stardom but it does suggest real skill. Adjust that production to factor in age, and now it starts to seem the Lightning might really have something here. In fact, Corsica’s prospect model, which rates players largely based on age, scoring, and the league in which they played, ranked Schmiemann as the 13th best defensive prospect in this year’s draft. That seem overly optimistic but is an indication that his scoring at such a young age suggests he might have more to offer than a typical sixth round pick.
If we merge that production with the information from the scouts above, we could reasonably think of Schmiemann as a capable two way defender with more room to improve than most draft eligible players. Considering where he was selected, that makes him a fun addition to the pipeline.
Heading into this season, Schmiemann will be just barely older than most draft eligible prospects. If he puts up strong numbers this season for the Blazers, the Lightning might have another late round winner.