Brayden Schenn is coming off his best season in the NHL. His career highs in all areas earned him a new contract worth $5.25 million over the next four years. The consistency he has developed is an essential part of Schenn’s future in the league.
Taking a look at the growth of Schenn during his career, consistency has been a term commonly used to describe him. It isn’t something that he developed in the NHL, but rather something he is been known for since his junior days with the Brandon Wheat Kings. It was a key component in his 2009 scouting report.
A talented, gritty and hard-working center, Schenn is a player who brings a lot of different elements to the table and possesses very few, if any, areas of weakness. A good skater with decent top speed, Schenn has the agility and mobility to beat defensemen off the rush. Schenn also boasts excellent puck skills and tremendous vision, making him not only a top-end playmaker, but a consistent threat to score as well.
During this time consistency was one of his best attributes. The report goes on to mention that Schenn rarely had a bad game or even a bad shift. And that he always brought a high level of compete in his game. So consistency shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Brayden Schenn Drafted By Kings
The Los Angeles Kings took Brayden Schenn with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. High picks like this typically come with the expectation of consistent play over the course of their NHL career.
Schenn never had the opportunity to prove himself to the Kings organization. The center only played in a total of nine games in the NHL between the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 season. After eight games with the Kings at the beginning of the 2010 season, Schenn was sent down to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs and subsequently returned to the Wheat Kings.
Previous Kings head coach Terry Murray often mentioned Schenn’s defensive problems when talking about his demotion. Murray also suggested that the defensive issues were a regular part of a player’s growth, but it was too risky at the time for the team.
Rumors began to circle about a possible trade of Schenn, but Murray immediately tried to halt them.
“Rumors are rumors, I guess. I would never agree to making a trade for Brayden Schenn.” Murray said. “This is a high draft pick, a great kid and again has nice potential, up side to his game. We’re looking for him to be part of the L.A. Kings for a long time.”
Trade to Philadelphia Flyers
Despite Coach Murray’s assurance that Schenn wasn’t going anywhere, the Los Angeles Kings decided to trade him, Wayne Simmonds, and a 2012 second round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2011 offseason in exchange for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson.
Kings president and general manager Dean Lombardi said that it was a move that was important for the franchise.
Despite only having played nine total games in the NHL, Schenn had the opportunity to appear in 54 games during his first season with Philadelphia. Various injuries, including a concussion, would end up limiting his playing time. Schenn was still able to put up 12 goals and six assists for 18 points during his limited time. He also added three goals and six assists in the postseason. This produced praise from then General Manager Paul Holmgren and various scouts who described him as a budding star and a hardworking player.
Coming into camp before the 2011-2012 season, Schenn had a chance to play on the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. While he did have opportunities with those linemates during the season, he found success with Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds. Even with a lockout-shortened season, his point total improved in seven fewer games. The center totaled eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points.
Consistency Problems Arise
Despite proving himself as a reliable player in the league so far, Schenn started to show slight issues with consistency during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. While Schenn’s point totals continued to increase, it was the scoring droughts that become a problem. There was a point during the 2013-2014 season where Schenn had gone scoreless in 11 straight games.
Amid the concerns about his production, the Flyers re-signed him during the 2014 offseason. Current General Manager Ron Hextall would touch on the subject of Schenn’s consistency issues after this signing.
“I think that’s a fair statement probably from any young player in the league,” Hextall said. “I think Brayden had a good year last year. He’s a good young player. Can he be more consistent? You can probably say that about every player on our team but, yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment.”
The forward would continue to make strides in his development the following year. He played every forward position at different points, playing right wing for the first time in his career. While his goal total fell from 20 to 18, the point total moved up to 47, an increase of six points.
It seemed that the 2015-2016 season would be crucial in determining the type of contract he’d be signing come the following summer as a restricted free agent.
26 goals, 33 assists, and 59 points are considered a breakout year when looking at Schenn’s career numbers. His career highs set in goals, assists, and points prove that conclusion.
One of the biggest factors of his breakout year was consistently spending time on the top line. Not only did Schenn have the opportunity to play with the same linemates, but he was also with two of the team’s top forwards in Giroux and Simmonds.
He was the Flyers most consistent scorer, posting 19 goals and 25 assists in the team’s final 44 games. The highlight of his season included his first career hat trick. Those numbers helped him secure the new four-year deal.
It was the first time Schenn felt he was one of the team’s go-to guys and was expected at to produce. He credited that to guys like Simmonds, Giroux and Jakub Voracek who looked to hold him accountable for his performance each game.
Schenn’s growth also benefited from a change in head coaching. Dave Hakstol’s aggressive forechecking system fit perfectly with Schenn’s physical playing style.
“When I get involved physically and emotionally, it gets me into the game,” Schenn said before the regular season. “So, yeah, that probably is a fair statement. I’ve always thought that when I’m physical, I play better hockey.”
One can hope this past season proved the consistency issues are behind Brayden Schenn as he aims to prove his worth. He should get that chance as he’s projected to be a key contributor to the Flyers top-six forward group.