One constant in the Royals offensive attack has been second-year forward Brayden Schuurman. Of all 17-year-old skaters in the WHL, the Abbotsford product is among the most productive of the group.
“Learning a lot coming from the bubble and having this year and having a real taste of all the travel and game density of a real season and really learning what it’s like to be a player in this league has been really good,” said Schuurman, who has 21 goals and 34 points in 39 games this season.
“Coming into this season, we really saw that in camp right away, his level of fitness, his level of preparation, and again, his ability to find chemistry with different line mates,” said Royals’ General Manager and Head Coach Dan Price.
Schuurman had five goals in the B.C. Bubble last spring but has already eclipsed the 20-goal mark this season.
And his play has earned him a spot on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings for the 2022 draft, sitting 58th among all North American skaters.
But that’s something far from the forward’s focus.
“I had a couple of friends text me they were like ‘well done’ and whatever, but I wasn’t too focused on that, I think there’s a lot more to look forward to this year,” Schuurman said.
Price says the draft is always tough to predict for a potential NHL prospect but believes Schuurman’s versatility is one of his biggest strengths.
“They oftentimes draft not just on overall ability but for need. And I think that’s one advantage Brayden has is he can fill multiple roles on any pro club’s roster,” said Price.
“He can play centre, he can play wing, he can play up and down your lineup.”
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And Schuurman is half of a potent 1-2 scoring punch, alongside Royals’ leading scorer Bailey Peach, who has 24 goals and 51 points in 39 games.
The WHL Player of the Month in December has high praise for his younger teammate.
“He’s going to have a long career cause he’s a great player. Wins a lot of face-offs, good two-way forward, big body, and he’s got a lot of speed too up the ice,” said Peach, who leads the Royals in scoring.
Although listed at 5’9″, Schuurman has scored goals with power moves to the net and is not afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice.
“Pretty physically mature even for my height and size, I think that I don’t shy away from anything like that, I really love that side of the game,” Schuurman said.
With success so early in his WHL career, Schuurman is a key piece to the Royals’ fortunes in the next few seasons.
“Same with the 2005 age group and same with the 2006 age group, so he’s one of a really impressive class of players in those three age groups I think that is going to be able to come up together, develop into great junior hockey players, and into great pros, as well,” said Price.
“It’s a wonderful place to play, great city, there’s not much more that you would want from there and the leaders on the team, the older guys do a great job of bringing the younger guys up and really grooming us for when we become those leaders on the team,” said Schuurman.