The question of who will replace Jaromir Jagr on the Flyers’
top line may be answered, and there is a good chance it’s not who you would
have first suspected. At Monday’s practice, 21-year-old Brayden Schenn skated
alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell in what would seem a likely preview of
one new pairing to come at the regular season opener this Saturday.
A popular line of thinking had Jakub Voracek joining Giroux
and Hartsy on the right wing this season. Whether it’s out of an unwillingness
to break up another line, or because head coach Peter Laviolette wishes to
maximize a young player’s promise, it’s Schenn that opened up camp with the big
“Lavy told me the day before. Just
had a meeting and he let me know. You know it’s just an opportunity for me to
go and play with one of the best players in the league and Hartnell is coming
off a great year. For me, I’m trying to blend in and find chemistry as
quick as possible and step up and fill that hole.”
What the Flyers can’t replace in Jagr’s veteran leadership,
they hope to at least duplicate on the stat sheet. He finished with 19 goals
and 35 assists in 73 games a season ago. Voracek had 18 goals and 31 assists in
78 games – very comparable totals – while Schenn put up 12 and 6 over 54.
Obviously a variety of factors are at work in these numbers
though, including health and supporting cast. Schenn missed some time due to
injury, and was skating on the weakest line of the three players.
Still, it’s a bold move on Lavy’s part, albeit not
necessarily the wrong move. A fifth-overall pick in the 2009 draft, not only
might Schenn be beyond capable of skating on somebody’s top line – he could potentially
center one someday. If it allows the team to keep the Voracek-Danny Briere-Wayne
Simmonds line intact, it’s certainly worth exploring.
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