Who is Cole Schwindt?
Schwindt was selected 49th overall in the OHL Priority Draft to the Mississauga Steelheads in 2017 and built himself a rather unique résumé for a forward with NHL draft potential. Schwindt scored just 8 goals with 10 assists in 66 games in his first season in Mississauga. This season, he matched his point total from last season in just over a third of the time, finishing the season with 19 goals and 30 assists in 68 games, a 12.7 SH%, roles on the power play and penalty kill, and a promotion from right wing to top line center in February. Though capable of playing both, Schwindt’s style seems more suited for a center role as he embraces the 200 foot game with a flair for physicality and particularly keen defensive instincts for a forward. His 52.9% face-off percentage and .72 PPG this season is respectable, but his abilities show best in more advanced stats like these-
Cole Schwindt had a massive impact on his Mississauga linemates' on-ice results all season. He played 50+ minutes at 5v5 with 12 of 16 "regular" forwards, and all but one had a marked increase in Corsi For% when playing with Schwindt vs without. #2019NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/xy4Sg6Tb78— Jeremy Crowe (@307x) June 3, 2019
Where is Cole Schwindt Ranked?
Schwindt has done some impressive rising up the draft rankings this season thanks to his stronger and more consistent offensive output, topping off at nearly a point per game during the month of February.
At midterms, he was ranked 131 of NA Skaters by NHL Central Scouting and 295th overall by The Draft Analyst’s Steve Kournianos. Since then he’s climbed to 96th NA Skater and 181st overall for Kournianos. Other rankings have him at:
253rd—The Hockey Writers’ Larry Fisher
180 OA— Draftsite’s Mock Draft Projection
Quotes and Notes on Schwindt:
Schwindt’s coach at the Steelheads James Richmond had some high praise for him, citing his success in the move from wing to center and comparing him to current Bing Devil Nathan Bastian. Bastian, a second round pick of the Devils in the 2016 draft, also played for the Steelheads and made a similar move from wing to center while there.
Others who describe Schwindt’s play often stick to his impact on the defensive end of the ice. Prospect Pipeline describes him as a “consistent two-way forward” who is able to “physically dominate his opposition in his defensive zone before dislodging the puck owing to his active and accurate stick”. OHL Writers’ Dominic Tiano says of Schwindt:
He sees the ice extremely well and has an ability to slow the game down using his patience to wait for opportunities to sort themselves out.
Physicality is an area Schwindt does not shy away from. Whether it’s initiating contact, or taking a hit to make a play, you can count on him being involved. In the O-zone, he gets in on the forecheck and will take advantage physically against opposition defenders. In the D-zone, he’ll battle for pucks along the walls—something he rarely loses at.
He can be trusted against the top players on the other side and to kill penalties. He uses his hockey smarts to defend, knowing how to take away lanes, use an active stick and to use that long reach he possesses effectively. He has excellent anticipation skills and can create turnovers from it.
...he has the skillset to be a defensive forward who can kill penalties and provide a touch of offense at the next level.
Tiano’s praise of Schwindt’s defensive game meshes well with Puck Authority’s David Ciss’ praise of Schwindt’s two-way style and potential. who argues that if Schwindt, who he says has the shot and accuracy to score when needed, “had more points, there is no doubt in my mind he would not be considered a top prospect.” Ciss’ description of Schwindt’s strengths shows Schwindt impresses in pretty much every area on the ice besides the score sheet—
Schwindt passes the eye test with flying colours. His physicality is one aspect of his game that is sure to get him on some scouts radars. When he is not scoring goals, he is doing everything else that he can on the ice to help his team. He puts up big hits and tries to be physical against players even if he knows that they are bigger then him. He is strong on the forecheck which leads to good scoring chances in the offencive zone and can create plays. He knows where to position the puck for his teammates when trying to set up a play as well.
The most evocative praise of Schwindt’s play however has to be this point from Ciss: “What is perhaps the most intriguing part of Schwindt’s game is how transferable it looks. Regardless of his scoring abilities, he has all of the intangibles to be a NHL level player. He isn’t one of those players who skate around the ice until they score.”
Some Video Review...
Schwindt has managed to fly exceptionally far under the radar, so there is not ton of video of his play to highlight but here’s a few—
Schwindt shows off a bit of a Bingo board of later round offensive potential here— average to possibly above average speed? Sure. Calm head and hands under pressure? Check. (Free Space—Get Pucks On Net). Strong accurate shot? Bingo. He’s not deking around defenders or speeding by them through the zone but he handles the puck and gets it where it needs to go.
ADAM! Adam Varga gets a sweet backhand pass from Cole Schwindt and gives Mississauga a 4-3 lead and the Steelheads would hold on for the win! pic.twitter.com/EXNAaXCs2F— Darius (@DariusDomingues) October 19, 2018
Schwindt’s style might be worthy of its own NHL-esque cliche—he gets the puck where it needs to go. For Schwindt that doesn’t seem to be a shoot-first mentality necessarily, but he finds open lanes and creates chances and shoots when he has to.
Schwindt again pulls off the simple version of doing everything that needs to be done — he wins the face-off, goes to the net, pots the rebound. Fundamental hockey done right.
Since there’s not much other footage to go over and I would have liked to show something on his physical playing style, here’s Schwindt engaging in a different type of physical play-
The Verdict: To Draft, or Not to Draft?
Schwindt has a jack-of-all-trades style that the later rounds of the draft are made for. He’s a well-rounded, versatile two-way player (any more cliches I can fit in there? He plays a 200 foot game too in case you were wondering). He can play both wing and center, can skate, pass, shoot, and defend equally well and has both size and physical style— he is a bit on the skinny side and a few reports have mentioned he could stand to bulk up a bit, but at only 17 years old, bulking is in every draft pick’s future.
Comparisons are the name of the game in prospect-watching, and Schwindt has received more than his fair share. He’s been measured up against Bastian by his coach, Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadians by Ciss, Anthony Cirelli of the Tampa Bay Lightning by Prospect Pipeline, and Nate Schnarr of the Guelph Storm (2017 Arizona Coyotes draft pick) by Tiano. A potential 6th or 7th round pick, the comparison for NJ Devils fans is obvious—Jesper Bratt. Bratt had a better year before while Schwindt put up better numbers the year of his draft, but the two played in entirely different leagues with different playing styles, so all that can really be concluded from that comparison is that the Devils might be able to get another NHL player out of the 6th round. The better comparison in my opinion might be 3rd round pick Blake Coleman. Coleman’s offensive production prior to 2011 looked similar to Schwindt’s, and he might have gone in later rounds as well if not for his explosive draft year season. The playing styles of the two have endless parallels— the physicality regardless of the other player’s size, the wing/center capabilities, the strong defensive side with a specialty for killing penalties, the list goes on.
This year’s Devils are overflowing with high round picks, which whether we trade up, trade for players, or actually take all those draft picks will give the Devils a chance at finding the type of players that you put in when you have to win the game in the next two minutes, like our overtime hero Hischier. Down in the later rounds of the draft is the chance to find the players that you rely on to help you win the game over the previous 60 minutes, and Schwindt seems to be the type of player who might make it to the NHL and do just that. The Devils appear to have a chance to draft what they found in the third round all the way back in the sixth, and if Schwindt is still on the table when that pick comes around, I personally hope to see them take that chance.
Do you think Schwindt is worth the pick, or are there better options to take in the later rounds? If you think we should pick him, what round should he go in? What current or former NHL player would you compare his style to? Leave your thoughts in the comments and thanks for reading!