Reid Schaefer picked the perfect time to have a breakout season.
Until last year, Schaefer had six goals and 19 points in 51 games split between the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) and Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). In his first full season in the WHL with Seattle, he found his stride firing home 32 goals and 58 points in the regular season, and then became a huge contributor in the playoffs with six goals and 21 points in 25 games. His draft stock rose tremendously, leading to the Edmonton Oilers taking him with the 32nd overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
“A little bit of a late bloomer, but he had a tremendous year and continuously got better,” said Oilers director of scouting Tyler Wright at the NHL Draft. “They (Seattle) had a long playoff run, and he (Schaefer) played a big part in it. As we got later in the (first) round, we thought it was a great opportunity to grab him.”
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After an impressive first development and main camp, Schaefer has returned to his WHL franchise, and it’s safe to say he has hit the ground running. In four games for Seattle, the Oilers’ first-round pick has six goals and is second in the league in scoring.
On Tuesday, the Spruce Grove native fired home his first junior hat trick versus the Medicine Hat Tigers. The goals came at crucial times too. Schaefer responded to the Medicine Hat tying the game early in the first and then quickly added his second, the game-winner, shorthanded less than five minutes later. Seattle didn’t look back from that point on, and Schaefer sealed the hat trick and the win with an empty net goal.
“It’s nice to be put in those situations and have their trust. When I go out there, I just must do my job,” said Reid Schaefer post-game.
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If he continues at this rate, perhaps he’ll be in an Oilers uniform sooner than we think. Until then, it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him “do his job” for the Thunderbirds, who should have another big season ahead of them.