When the Montreal Canadiens signed Corey Schueneman to a contract in the summer of 2020, there wasn’t much fanfare made about it. He was clearly meant as a piece of the puzzle in Laval with the Rocket.
At first glance, his 12 points in 36 games for the division champion Rocket doesn’t seem like a lot, but Schueneman was much more than just points. He was able to earn the trust of head coach Joël Bouchard quickly, becoming a reliable option in any situation thanks to his mobility and willingness to carry the puck through all three zones. His strong season and on-ice leadership resulted in an NHL contract for this year, and another strong start under new coach Jean-François Houle saw him playing similar minutes again.
With COVID running over the Habs like a rampaging rhino, Schueneman drew his first call-up against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that debut, Schueneman collected his first NHL point as well, grabbing an assist on Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s first NHL goal with a bold run deep into the offensive zone to keep a play alive.
Once the Canadiens got themselves healthy enough, Schueneman returned to Laval where he continued to be his normal steady self for the Rocket as they climbed the standings into a secure playoff spot.
Then with Ben Chiarot out, Schueneman found himself back in the Habs lineup playing three games in three days between the Habs and Rocket. All he did was grab another assist despite the Canadiens falling 5-3 to the Sabres.
Much like he’s done at the AHL level, Schueneman’s efforts did not go unnoticed as new head coach Martin St. Louis became a big fan, and it showed against the St. Louis Blues. At five-on-five in regulation, Schueneman led the Canadiens in ice time, and was third on the team in all situations behind just Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry. We also saw St. Louis trust Schueneman enough to give him shifts in overtime.
It hasn’t just been a one-game flash for Schueneman. In terms of creating high-danger chances per 60 minutes, he leads all Montreal defenders at 12.56. He also leads the defence in expected goals per 60 at 2.54. While it’s a smaller sample size, it’s an encouraging sign to see. With many members of the Canadiens likely on the move as the trade deadline approaches, Schueneman can earn himself a regular NHL job, not only for this year, but perhap beyond through the rebuild.
It’s been a season with plenty of negatives, but it shouldn’t overshadow the positive things that have also been happening among the doom and gloom.