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.