Of all the Flyers' acquisitions from the mind-boggling trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Brayden Schenn was the most hyped. Unfortunately, he has also been the least productive so far. Schenn currently sits on the injured reserve and expects to miss at least two more weeks. Even when he was in the lineup, he produced zero points and was a minus five rating in four games.
However, if you got the chance to watch Schenn at any point, you know that he is much better than his stats indicate. That doesn't matter, of course, unless he begins to produce.
So what can we expect from Schenn going forward? Well, I think, to be frank, some great things are on their way.
Look forward to these types of opportunities getting cashed in.
If Schenn starts the year with the Flyers, I don’t think this is a bold prediction. As it is, the Flyers have played 15 games and Schenn has registered zero points. I doubt that he’ll play more than 60 games this year, as he’s likely to miss the next six over the two weeks he’s supposed to miss.
Even so, Schenn has the talent to pot 20 in his limited regular season. He doesn’t have the hardest shot in the world, but don’t expect that to matter much as his game is closer to the net. He’s got the quick release to score on intermediate shots and the soft hands and tenacity to finish in the crease area.
Add all that to the fact he’ll be playing with at least one of Matt Read, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier or Danny Briere, all strong distributors, and you have a recipe for a guy who can easily score 20 goals in 60 games.
Remember this guy? Yeah, he scored 53 points as a rookie for Chicago.
This is obviously related to the first prediction. Brayden Schenn is a very good overall player and this is not an indictment of his shooting, which I also like, but he’s not a player who will ever have more goals than assists. Even in about 60 games, I think 20 goals and 30 assists will be very doable for Schenn.
Look, anyone who watched him play knows the kid has talent. He’s cocky and plays like he knows he’s good. Combine those two little tidbits with the caliber of players he’ll be playing with, and you have a guy who can easily top 50 points.
Schenn should be skating by this guy for some shorthanded opportunities in the future.
This may be both the least bold and most unpredictable prediction.
Right now, the Flyers have only two shorthanded goals, scored by Sean Couturier and Max Talbot. Those two both own ridiculous shooting percentages of 20.8 percent and 31.3 percent respectively. So expect their goal-scoring to take at least a little bit of a downturn.
While I think Matt Read and Claude Giroux will both score shorties by season’s end, if any Flyer has two by the time Schenn returns, it will be a surprise.
As Schenn will jump on the penalty kill almost immediately, he will get opportunities to score shorthanded. He’s as good as or better offensively than any penalty killer outside of Claude Giroux, and Peter Laviolette seemed to be phasing Giroux off the PK. So while I expect Couturier and Read to put in a couple, Schenn will be the one who scores the most.
The kid has already proved pretty good at winning these. And he will improve.
Again, this is a goal that won’t be terribly hard to achieve. Danny Briere currently leads the Flyers with a 52.3 win percentage. Brayden Schenn is the only other center on the team winning 50 percent of his faceoffs. Claude Giroux is close at 48.8, but Talbot and Couturier are both under 44 percent.
There are two reasons why, when Schenn returns, he will become the Flyers best faceoff man. Firstly, rookies tend to improve at faceoffs as they become more accustomed to the NHL game. That Schenn maintained a 50 percent winning percentage in his four games at the NHL level shows that he has a natural affinity for winning draws. Expect his percentage to go up as the season moves forward.
Secondly, Briere will be hard pressed to maintain his high winning percentage. Here are his winning percentages in every season going back to the lockout: 48.2, 44.2, 46.2, 50.5, 49.6, 50.7. While players do have a tendency to get better at faceoffs with age, Rob Brind’Amour being the prime example, Briere’s career doesn’t suggest a trajectory that would account for such a jump.
Beyond that, in the above time frame, Briere has never finished higher than third on his team in faceoffs taken. Basically, in seven years as an elite scorer, he’s never truly been counted on as a top faceoff man. He’s second on the Flyers right now behind Giroux in faceoffs taken, and he’s likely to stay there due to the ice time he’s getting. Over the course of the season, expect Briere’s numbers to level out between 48 and 51 percent due to the high volume of draws.
If Schenn can be predicted to win around 52 percent of his draws, not an absurd number, he has a great chance at being the best faceoff man on the Flyers.
This rookie scored against the Flyers and is on pace for 57 points and 33 goals.
Here’s the list of rookies on pace for 50 points this season: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Luke Adam, Craig Smith, Adam Henrique and Matt Read.
Nugent-Hopkins is the real deal and capable of putting up Patrick Kane numbers. However, expect two of Adam, Smith, Henrique and Read to fall off as the season wears on. For my money, I’d pick Smith and Henrique (both play in defensive systems).
That drops two out of the top five. One of Cody Hodgson, Gabriel Landeskog, Brett Connolly and Colin Greening will jump in (Landeskog is my bet), leaving the last spot open.
This is where Schenn comes in. If Schenn can put up the 50 points I predict for him, then he’ll be in the top five and challenge for the No. 2 spot. I think Nugent-Hopkins may be way ahead by then, but everyone else will be in reach for Schenn.
He's been on a roll lately, but a prolonged funk could land Scott Hartnell back on the trading block.
Yes, it is entirely possible the Flyers could very simply slot Schenn into Talbot’s spot between Wayne Simmonds and Read. However, that will leave the following players to fill in the fourth line: Couturier, Talbot, Zac Rinaldo, Andreas Nodl, Harry Zolnierczyk and Jody Shelley. Only three players can be on a line, and it won’t be economically viable for the Flyers to keep three extra forwards.
The Flyers could very well just send Rinaldo and Zolnierczyk to the Phantoms. However, that Shelley and Nodl were scratched last night, and both Rinaldo and Zolnierczyk played, bodes well for the kids staying with the team. Their strong overall play, and that of Eric Wellwood as well, may mean that we’ve seen the last of Shelley or Nodl.
Even further, consider that Talbot has played very well in his third line role. The Flyers will be unlikely to keep Schenn and Couturier on the fourth line and will seek a way to get one of them top nine minutes. If that situation comes along, the Flyers may look at moving someone like Jakub Voracek or Scott Hartnell.
Matt Read won't be so happy when Schenn starts taking his ice time.
You may think this is kind of a no-brainer, but this may the biggest reach for Schenn.
Yes, the Flyers are going to try and get Schenn on the ice as much as they possibly can. But at the moment, Matt Read is the Flyers’ rookie forward leader in average ice time at 15:34 per game. Schenn is close at 14:52 per game, but Read’s power play time puts him ahead.
Expect that to change, however. With Schenn’s talents, he should fairly quickly be able to work his way into the power play rotation. Briere, Giroux, Jagr, Timonen and Pronger are probably untouchable in terms of power play time, but anyone else is liable to be removed from the rotation should they fail, with Schenn being first in line for replacements.
Not the best hit, but you have to give him credit for taking the body.
This one is a reflection of Schenn’s tenacity. Even with Rinaldo, the human wrecking ball, on the team, I fully expect Schenn to lead Flyers rookies in hits.
In this area, Schenn is very much like Mike Richards. While he doesn’t seem capable of laying the crushing hits that Richards did, Schenn takes the body at any point possible. His closing speed could use some work but when he gets there, he makes sure the opponent knows it.
And the next prediction is a direct result of this.
Already, Schenn seems to be in some pain.
With the way Schenn plays, you can fully expect him to spend some more time on the IR this season. Players who take the body, kill penalties, and sit in passing and shooting lanes are going to get hurt. It’s the price you pay.
Unfortunately, the Flyers paid a lot to get Schenn (see Richards, Mike) and they, along with their fans, won’t be happy that their prize acquisition is injured. Well, by the time Schenn comes off the IR, the season will be more than a quarter over. Players generally don’t get healthy during mid-season, and it's likely Schenn won’t be fully healed until the offseason and will have his share of “day-to-day” injuries until then.
If this guy can score 11 goals and 19 points in the playoffs, what could Schenn do?
And that’s why you take the hard minutes and injuries and all the missed games from Schenn. Because he is a playoff warrior.
In 43 WHL playoff games, Schenn had 51 points, including 24 goals. Even better, at the World Junior (Under 20) Championships, against the best players of his age in the world, Schenn had 26 points and 10 goals in only 13 games. As a 19-year-old in the AHL playoffs, playing against full-fledged men, he had four points in five games for Manchester Monarchs last season. To put those numbers in perspective, Mike Richards had 15 points in 14 AHL playoff games and 10 points in 12 World Junior games.
Schenn’s tenaciousness and his strong skill set makes him a player who seems likely to succeed at the highest level of competition. He has consistently raised his game when advancing to the next level at every stage except the NHL so far. Players who consistently dominate at every level almost always end up strong NHL players. For my money, Schenn has that written all over him.