Has it occurred to anyone else that Christoph Schubert seems to be putting his game together at the NHL level? To me, he is one of the most improved players on the team this year (others being Emery, Volchenkov and Vermette) and is starting to fulfill his potential as a solid NHL defenceman.
Drafted in the 4th round of the 2001 entry draft, the same year as Spezza and Emery, Schubert was touted as having all the tools to succeed as an NHL defenceman - ideal size, tremendous skating ability, excellent shot, and strong positional play. He was considered to have good hockey sense, keeping things simple, playing within his abilities and using his size to his advantage.
When Schubert came to Binghamton he could be described in one word - inconsistent. At times he could look fantastic, like a sure-fire NHLer, and at others completely lost. Schubert struggled through his first two seasons in the AHL before finally putting it all together in his third season in North America - the lockout year. While playing on a D-corps that also featured NHLers Brian Pothier and Anton Volchenkov, Schubert was often the best defenceman on the ice. He displayed confidence in his game, often rushing the puck up the ice and playing a strong physical brand of hockey on the back end while scoring 10 goals and 32 points with a lack of powerplay time (compared to 10-35-45 for Volchenkov and 12-36-48 for Pothier).
While his first season in the NHL was an adventure, playing part-time at both forward and defence, it seems that Schubert is following a similar path in the NHL as he did in the AHL. It seems that after an adjustment period, Schubert is able to become more comfortable and confident in his surroundings and put his game together. I think he is doing just that this year - having already surpassed his points total from last year in only 34 games, and playing a much more reliable defensive game than we've ever seen from him.
With the abundance of quality defencemen in Ottawa this season, Schubert is bound to continue playing both forward and defence, in the absence of injury, but I think he has earned himself a spot in the top six next year.
What are your thoughts on the development of Christoph Schubert? I think, in time, Schubert could turn into a more physical version of ex-Senator Sami Salo and in a few years could be a solid #4 defenceman in this league.
I think Redden coming back will help Corvo simplify his game. All he has to do now is play D, shoot and pinch, no more outlet bombs. He just needs to pass to Redden in the D zone and let Wade work his magic.