World Juniors Bound: Reid Schaefer

As we count down to the start of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, we’re featuring each of the 11 WHL players set to represent Canada at the event.

We continue our series with Seattle Thunderbirds forward Reid Schaefer.

The Seattle Thunderbirds’ run to the WHL Championship Series resulted in excitement for fans and exposure for players.

Four Thunderbirds heard their names called at the 2022 NHL Draft, including forward Reid Schaefer, who was selected in the first round by his hometown Edmonton Oilers.

For Schaefer, the 2021-22 season was an example of the unpredictability of major junior hockey. The forward’s numbers skyrocketed, from two points in 18 contests during the 2020-21 season, to a 32-goal, 21 playoff point campaign a calendar year later.

That momentum carried over into this season, and now, Schaefer finds himself as one of four Seattle skaters set to represent Canada when the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship opens Monday in the Maritimes.

“Looking at the team, I’m a guy that can be a role player, play that bottom-six role in the lineup, bring energy and use my frame to my advantage,” he recently told TSN.

At 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, Schaefer’s got an imposing frame withing a big Canadian lineup. In fact, he is one of nine skaters on the Canada roster standing 6-foot-3 or taller.

A trip to Edmonton Oilers training camp this fall served as another learning experience for the product of Spruce Grove, Alta. Watching NHL superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hone their craft while getting his first real taste of professional life helped kick-start a 2022-23 campaign that led him to Moncton, N.B. earlier this month.

But for Schaefer, the accolades and experiences all come back to the work being put in with the Thunderbirds, who at 23-4-1-1 are looking to build on last spring’s memorable post-season run.

“The last couple of years in Seattle, we’ve had a good team, and going to the [WHL Championship Series] was a huge part of that,” Schaefer noted.

“With team success comes individual success, we’ve got a good group over there so it’s special.”

Team Canada concludes its World Juniors pre-tournament schedule Friday versus Finland.

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