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Schueneman’s return is humongous for the Rocket

On Wednesday, the Rocket announced two significant player personnel moves among the playoff race. After his impressive offensive streak, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard earned himself a match with the Canadiens before coming back to Laval while Corey Schueneman joined the Rocket before the playoff push.

The news about Harvey-Pinard is obviously the one that got the most attention but Schueneman’s return cannot be taken lightly for the Rocket. After all, it wasn’t an accident that he played so many games in the NHL. Laval’s #6 was able to look like he belonged in the NHL and he can be dominant in the AHL.

That stretch of games is significant because the defenseman wants to use the NHL experience he got to bring his game with the Rocket to another level while also making sure that his teammates benefit from it for their own development.

“I knew it would happen” confessed Schueneman about his return to Laval. “I just wanted to soak up as much as I could before I came back. Use the experience up in the NHL at that level with the coaching staff, the players there, just trying to learn as much as I can so when I do come down here, I’m the best I can be and maybe even pass on a couple things to these guys.”

His 10 points in 27 games might not jump off the page but you have to remember that his impact doesn’t only show up on the scoresheet. That’s why he is one of J-F Houle’s most used defensemen this season when he is part of the roster.

The state of play in which Schueneman’s domination is the most obvious is at 5 on 5. It’s crystal clear when you focus on the scoring chances differential for example. Despite his long absence in the NHL, the #6 comes back in Laval in second place in that statistic among defensemen with a +29. Louie Belpedio is the only one ahead of him for the Rocket this season.

Speaking of Belpedio, it’s when you look at the impact of Schueneman on his play at 5 on 5 that you realised how good he is. The same can be said when you look up what happens when he plays with Tory Dello.

When Dello and Schueneman were on the ice at the same time before the latter got called up in the NHL, the duo had a +20 scoring chances differential at 5 on 5. Without Schueneman, Dello is at -7 this season. The same phenomenon can be observed when it comes to Corsi percentage. Dello is at 46.28% in that statistic without Schueneman. Together, that number skyrockets to 59.84%. That’s the difference between a team that misses the playoffs and one that can dream about the Calder Cup.

The same thing pops up when you focus on Belpedio and Schueneman. When Belpedio is on the ice without the #6, he has a respectable Corsi percentage of 53.88% but it goes to an elite level (63.55%) when they play together. It means that with these two players on the ice, Rocket practically doubles up the shot attempts of its opponent.

Schueneman will start his return to the team with Dello, but whether he stays with or he joins Belpedio, there is no doubt that Schueneman’s return will give the Rocket and Jean-François Houle another elite defensemen pair.

“We’re excited to have him back” admitted Jean-François Houle when asked about the return of Corey Schueneman with the team. “I thought he played with a lot of confidence up in the NHL and hopefully he comes down here and does the same thing. I feel like we have a pretty solid D core in order to clinch. To play well moving forward, we need to play well defensively. That’s how we’re built.”

We often hear that defense wins championships and if this is true, Corey Schueneman coming surely puts the Laval Rocket in a good spot with the playoffs quickly approaching.