Flyers B. Schenn on the trading block and why that's a bad idea

Flyers B. Schenn on the trading block and why that's a bad idea

While the Flyers were busy taking down the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday for their fourth win in five games, TSN analyst Darren Dreger was busy stirring the rumor pot.

According to the report, the Flyers are (very) quietly shopping forward Brayden Schenn. But to get done, the deal needs to be the “right” one for general manager Paul Holmgren.

Though this report is paper thin because of its vagaries, and granted it’s impossible to judge a deal of this magnitude without knowing the return, Holmgren should take a step back.

The Flyers could benefit by staying patient with Schenn.

When he was drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2009, he was a potential franchise player. When he was traded to the Flyers for Mike Richards, he was Richards 2.0. He’s even flirted with the notion of being a bust.

But Schenn really isn’t any of those things. At least not yet.

If you strip away the labels, the lofty expectations and the Flyers’ ultra-reliance on his production, he’s simply a young, talented forward and he’s progressing very nicely.

Coming off a two-goal effort in a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins last week, 22-year-old Schenn took the Flyers’ team scoring lead. He added an assist on Tuesday against the Senators to bring his season total to 13 points in 20 games.

With six points in his last five games, Schenn is on pace for 25 goals and 29 assists -- good for 54 points over an 82-game span.

And while that might not seem an earth-shattering number to some, a productive 2013-14 is crucial for Schenn to reach his vast upside. Trading him would be to waste his development to this point.

Alongside Wayne Simmonds and Vinny Lecavalier, Schenn has helped the Flyers’ hottest line score seven goals and seven assists in their last five games. He is averaging 15:59 time on ice per night, with 3:02 of that coming on the power play. He is tied for fifth on the team in shots with 38.

With his role set and just the right amount of puck luck on a productive line, Schenn could be a 50-to-60 point player this season -- right in line with where he should be at this stage in his career.

In other words, he is on the cusp of breaking out.

At 20-years old, Schenn earned 18 points in 54 games -- an 82-game pace of 27 points. In last year’s shortened lockout season he earned 26 points -- a full-season scoring pace that would have left Schenn with 45 points over 82 games. And he is on track to exceed those numbers this season.

Schenn’s development is taking a familiar road and it puts his improvement in context.

At 21, his rookie season, former Flyers captain Richards earned 34 points. In his sophomore season, 22-year-old Richards was on pace for 45 points with 14 goals and 31 assists -- the exact same 82-game projection as Schenn’s sophomore campaign. Richards’ big season didn’t come until 2007-08, when he was 23, earning a whopping 75 points.

Both Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk are other examples of this same slow-and-steady road to production, as both players gradually improved from 20-22 until they hit their full offensive stride after their 23rd birthday.

At 22, Schenn isn’t Jamie Benn, Bobby Ryan or Logan Couture. But if he continues to improve and produce, he won't be far behind. For the Flyers, that possibility alone should be worth the patience.

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

VOORHEES, N.J. – Five games.

That’s what the Flyers are facing this coming week, which is why coach Dave Hakstol had his players involved in a full scrimmage Sunday morning at Skate Zone.

“I like it better than practicing,” offered Michael Raffl. “A little more action. A little physical and it gets you in game shape. I enjoyed it.”

The Flyers have two split-squad games on Monday – one in New Jersey against the Devils and other in Brookyln against the Islanders.

The scrimmage was up-tempo. So much so, Raffl and defenseman Will O’Neill were involved in a dangerous collision in the left corner that could have been disastrous with both players getting up slowly, but uninjured, on a puck chase.

“I don’t know, I was coming in hard,” Raffl said. “At first, I thought about playing the body and then I didn’t want to. So I was mixed in-between trying to slow down and there was a lot of contact as I fell into the boards. I felt fine afterwards.”

Raffl hit his neck awkwardly and was lucky to be uninjured. O’Neill took the hit.

“I went into the wall and knew he was coming and tried to be strong on my feet,” said O’Neill, a free agent signed over the summer. “Contact play in a bad area. Tough part of the ice.”

Hakstol held his breath there.

“It could have turned out differently,” he said. “It was kinda awkward play. You’re always happy to see him pop up and come out for another shift right after that.”

Raffl’s gray team won the scrimmage, 2-1, with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov setting up a play that resulted in Brayden Schenn’s game-winning goal from Wayne Simmonds.

“Good tempo, competitiveness … kind like the first few days where tempo and work levels were good,” Hakstol said of the scrimmage. “It tends to be a little scrambly in those first scrimmages.”

Jordan Weal centered the top line with Schenn on the left. Hakstol has Schenn on the left right now to get him used to playing there again. Once Claude Giroux returns from the World Cup of Hockey, the top line of Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds will be reunited.

“I made the play up there to Simmer and a nice pass by Provy to me and then Simmer back door to Schenn,” Weal said of the game-winning goal. “It felt good ... I’ve played just one game in nine months.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for being on the right side of pucks. It’s not going to come in the first game.”

Weal was impressed with Provorov.

“He’s a really good player,” he said. “You can see it in his skating, his passing. He’s got a lot of confidence. He tore up the WHL and that’s a great league. It’s going to be exciting to see him moving forward.”

Hakstol rated Provorov as “solid and efficient” in the scrimmage.

Loose pucks
Steve Mason worked with Carter Hart in goal … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz worked for the black team. Mason didn’t give up a goal. “We have eight exhibitions on the schedule and I will get into three or four of those,” he said. “By the time those wrap up, I’ll be where I want to be. Right now, I am feeling great which is a good start.” … Hakstol said Mason won’t play on Monday … Rookie forward Travis Konecny sat the scrimmage out (maintenance day). He said he was given a day off, but Konecny was receiving treatment by the medical staff on Saturday. “I see the trainer every day, I’m fine,” he said. Konecny should play in one of the split-squad games on Monday … Greg Carey had the other goal for the gray squad; Nicolas (cq) Aube-Kubel had the lone goal for the black squad … The defense rotated for both teams. Provorov was with Philippe Myers much of the game … Jakub Voracek practiced on his own. He won’t see action in the first three games and neither will Shayne Gostisbehere because of the World Cup, Hakstol said ... The scrimmage consisted of  two, 25-minute periods with a running clock. Sounds like the Public League, no?

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

NEW YORK -- Alec Asher’s two-seamer was nearly perfect against the Mets on Saturday night — even if the pitching line was attached to his name was decidedly less so.

The rookie exited after five innings with four unearned runs attached to his name — two Phillies’ throwing errors on playable ground balls will do that — but lowered his ERA to 1.66 in a 10-8 victory that was far, far closer than it needed to be.

Lost in the shuffle of the Phillies bullpen’s attempt at self-immolation was just how effective Asher’s newly-developed two-seam fastball was in the early innings against the Mets’ full lineup. The relatively slow pitch — it was sitting around 90 MPH Saturday — generated six popouts during his perfect first trip through the batting order.

“Being able to throw a pitch that’s not straight works wonders,” Asher said. “Last year, I didn’t really have success throwing the four-seam, so just adding that little bit of movement misses barrels, [generates] mishits and gave me a lot of ground balls and weak contact, which is all I can ask for.”

Opponents are batting just .182 off Asher’s two-seamer in his four starts this year, according to data from Fangraphs.com, a complete 180 from his disastrous September call-up in 2015.

In his first major league starts, Asher struggled to establish a mound presence with a four-seamer that nearly touched 95 MPH. Opponents batted .250 and got seven extra-base hits off the four seamer as Asher finished 2015 with an ugly 9.31 ERA.

The Phillies challenged Asher to generative more movement on the pitch and he returned in Spring Training with an entirely new repertoire.

So far, the effort has paid off.

“It’s outstanding. It’s been a real good pitch for him and his changeup,” manager Pete Mackanin said of Asher’s two-seamer. “He didn’t have either pitch last year, and for him to come up with it over the course of the winter and throw those pitches so effectively is huge.”

Asher relied on the changeup to escape the fifth inning — the only high-stress situation he faced all evening.

With four runs already in, a fifth runner poised on third base and a Citi Field crowd beside itself in hopes of a miracle comeback, Asher got pinch-hitter James Loney to top a low changeup out of the zone down the first base line that Tommy Joseph stopped with a dive.

“[I wanted] just to slow the game down and take it pitch by pitch,” Asher said.

Even if Saturday wound up being perhaps a bit more frantic than he would have liked to be, Asher has developed a formula for future success as he prepares for his final start of the season next Friday — also against the Mets — and 2017.

“Just establishing the fastball, commanding both sides of the plate and changing speeds,” he said.

His two-run single in the first inning on Saturday night — his first two career RBIs and, ultimately, the winning margin — was a bonus.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule.