For many different reasons, Schroeder, a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2009 draft, did not deliver.
In many ways, his enigmatic season mirrored that of the Gophers. He disappeared for stretches of games, was a virtual non-factor on the scoreboard, and appeared a shell of his freshman star self as the Gophers struggled to play .500 hockey.
After Minnesota's disappointing season came to an end in a first-round playoff loss to North Dakota Sunday, it was just a matter of time before Schroeder cashed in on his first-round status. That time came Wednesday.
The Canucks signed Schroeder to an entry-level deal. While there were obvious concerns about Schroeder's dip in production (he fell to just nine goals and 28 points this year), the Canucks can also be somewhat confident that Schroeder is ready.
He was a rock star in the 2010 World Junior Championships, playing marvelous two-way hockey and helping Team USA to an unexpected gold medal. Schroeder played in three World Juniors, tallying 27 points and becoming Team USA's all-time leading scorer in the event. He looked invigorated and ready to lead the Gophers to a resurgence when he returned to school.
Instead, Minnesota continued to flounder. Coach Don Lucia never found a quality combination for his top line, leaving Schroeder to play with different guys far too often. It was a stark contrast to his freshman season, when he was paired with Ryan Stoa -- now in the Avalanche organization -- for virtually the whole year. Schroeder struggled, and the Gophers finished seventh in the WCHA, forced to leave the state for a first-round playoff series for the first time since 1987. They are not playing in the league's prestigious postseason tournament -- the Final Five -- for just the second time since it started in 1993.
Despite the struggles, Lucia sounded confident that Schroeder is ready to jump.
"He is obviously an elite player with a bright future ahead of him," Lucia said. "And always accelerated the whole way up. He will have a great career.Watching Schroeder a few times this year, the area where he seemed to struggle was developing any real chemistry with his linemates. Things improved for him and the team when forward Jacob Cepis -- an undrafted player who transferred from Bowling Green and was eligible in January -- joined the team and almost immediately started skating on the top line.
... "[Schroeder] has great vision, he likes to be the set-up guy," Lucia said. "He always looked to pass."
However, the Gophers never got into a winning groove, and part of that was Schroeder's inability to really mesh on the ice with other players and make them better, like he and Stoa did for each other last year.
Schroeder generally worked hard down the stretch, which will help him at the next level. His play internationally also suggests he'll adjust well to the pros despite a relative lack of size. He could also still have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, as Schroeder was projected to go close to tenth overall last summer before falling into the 20s.