Senators hoping college prospect Schneider fulfills promise

University of Connecticut left wing Cole Schneider, signed to a two-year, two-way contract by the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, comes to the team with an impressive resume.

MONTREAL — University of Connecticut left wing Cole Schneider, signed to a two-year, two-way contract by the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, comes to the team with an impressive resume.

Then again, so did Bobby Butler and Stephane Da Costa, the last two college free agents signed by the Senators, and neither has lived up his promise.

Butler has just six goals and nine assists in 52 games and was scratched for the fourth straight game against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, while Da Costa has been in the minors since the end of November.

So as Schneider gets ready to report to Binghamton on Monday, where he will be on an amateur tryout, here’s the question: Will he be someone who can play in the NHL, if not just on the fourth line, or will he be this year’s version of Butler and Da Costa?

The Senators have their fingers crossed.

Assistant general manager Tim Murray said the team has been watching Schneider since singling him out as a prospect early in the season.

“Obviously he has to get stronger, but we saw him night after night at UConn and he was the best player there,” said Murray.

“We just like his skill set and we think he brings an offensive dimension to our team down the road. We watched him play a lot and we liked what we saw.”

Schneider, from Williamsville, New York, turns pro after setting the UConn points and goal-scoring records this season with 23 goals and 22 assists.

After two seasons, Schneider, 21, had more points (78) than any sophomore in UConn history.

As a freshman, the 6-2, 185-pound Schneider set UConn freshman records with 33 points and 20 assists and was named to the Atlantic Hockey Association All-Rookie Team.

Before UConn, Schneider played one season with the Topeka RoadRunners of the North American Hockey League, scoring 25 goals and 14 assists in 29 games.

He played the 2008-09 season with the North American Hockey League’s Mahoning Valley Phantoms, scoring 17 goals and adding 16 assists in 42 games.

Schneider had second thoughts about leaving UConn after only two years, but he felt he was ready to play professional hockey.

“It’s really hard to leave the guys on the team, but in the end I had to do what’s best for me,” he told uconnhuskies.com.

“Growing up, you dream of playing pro hockey and now I get to live that dream.

“The coaches really worked me hard this year. They got after me more and helped me improve what I needed to improve defensively. They helped me out with my all-around game really. The coaches were a huge part of this. Coming to UConn I never would have thought this was possible after two years, but they really helped me, probably more than they know.”

His coach at UConn was sad to see him go but happy for his success.

“Cole has worked hard to put himself in this position,” said Bruce Marshall.

“He had a tremendous impact on our season and our success. We’re excited for the next opportunity that’s in front of him. We’re looking forward to following his continued success down the road.”

What do you think? Leave a comment