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.

Penn State president 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

ap-psu-team-celebrate.jpg
Associated Press

Penn State president 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is pleased to see how well Penn State's football team has bounced back from the sanctions the program received in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal.

No. 5 Penn State (11-2) is having its best season since Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant of late Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, was arrested in 2011 for sexually abusing boys. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games and the Big Ten title.

"I think it's terrific," said Emmert, who spoke at an intercollegiate athletics forum sponsored by Learfield Communications on Wednesday in Manhattan.

"I think what Penn State went through is an awful situation and it's still playing out sadly. But the football program is still Penn State and they showed it and they did really well. The university has done an amazing job to put in place all of the things their board wanted and our board wanted."

The NCAA went outside its usual process to sanction Penn State in 2012. The school was hit with massive scholarship limitations and a four-year bowl ban, along with fines. The school also agreed to enact dozens of reforms recommended in a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal.

The original scholarship and postseason penalties were eventually rolled back. Emmert said he was pleased the roll back helped Penn State recover more quickly, and that NCAA sanctions are not meant to cripple an athletic program.

"I've always said and always believed that Penn State first and foremost is a great university ... and secondly it's got wonderful sports traditions. How could you not be pleased that they're playing good football again? That's very good stuff," he said.

Emmert covered numerous topics in a 30-minute question-and-answer session, and after he spoke with group of reporters for 15 more minutes.

-- He declined to weigh in on whether the College Football Playoff selection committee made the right decision with the four teams it chose to compete for the national championship, but he did say he would prefer an eight-team playoff that would include automatic bids for the Power Five conference champions.

"I think a conference championship ought to count for something. I think how you determine your champion is up to somebody else," Emmert said. "I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff."

The NCAA has no authority over the College Football Playoff.

"That's why we live in America. Everybody can have an opinion," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joked, when asked about Emmert's comments. "He doesn't have a vote, though."

-- Emmert said he would like to see the new NCAA football oversight committee better define the purpose of bowl games. There are 40 and some spots are given to teams with sub.-500 records. The NCAA does not run bowl games. It does have a sanctioning process, but mostly it lets conferences decide whether they want to put on games.

"What do we, the membership of intercollegiate athletics, want bowl games to be?" Emmert said. "Are they a 13th game that's an exhibition game? Are they a reward for having won something? We have teams in now that can get into a bowl game having won two or three of their conferences games."

-- The NCAA pulled its championship events out of North Carolina in September because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The decision was later criticized by Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in an Wall Street Journal op-ed. Jenkins said the NCAA should not be a moral arbiter.

"He and I have chatted a lot about that issue, and obviously I disagree and obviously, more importantly the board of governors disagreed," Emmert said.
The NCAA will choose sites for future championship events in April and part of that is a "fairly complex process," Emmert said, of looking at the local and state laws of potential host locations.

"One of the considerations we have now as we make those decisions, as the sport committees make decisions about where they go, is going to be LGBT rights," he said. "I think and hope and believe, maybe wishfully, that North Carolina will modify their position because citizens want that."

-- Emmert said the Big 12 deciding not to expand was a "good thing for college sports."

"I think the last round was very disruptive. It had a negative impact on so many schools, even personal relationships. It was hard and I'm glad we didn't have to go through that again. Even on a smaller scale," Emmert said.

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”