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It’s no secret that young players, across all levels of professional sports, struggle with consistency during the infancy of their careers. Flyers’ forward Brayden Schenn knows this as consistency has eluded him at the NHL level for the better part of his five-year career. In fact, Schenn has been so streaky over that time that his name has routinely popped up in trade speculation. That same inconsistency is likely the reason why Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier received long term deals over the summer, while Schenn, a pending restricted free agent like Couturier, did not.
To understand this fully, you’d have to go back to the summer of 2011.
When the Flyers traded Mike Richards for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a pick, Schenn was considered the crowned jewel of the deal. Hockey experts raved that Philadelphia was getting “the next Mike Richards” or “the best player not in the NHL” as his ultra-competitiveness and ability to play in any situation on any line or position left everyone wanting to see this player. It was expected that Schenn would come right in and produce.
Since those days, only parts of Schenn’s game have translated to the professional game. When playing well, the 24 year-old is winning 50/50 puck battles in the corners, is getting to the net and is playing physically. Schenn has always possessed a good shot and while he’ll never be considered a speedster, he has decent speed. It’s because of these qualities that Schenn is able to go on point-collecting surges like the one he is currently on with Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl.
However, Schenn far too often can appear disengaged from the game. He always been adamant on wanting to play the center position, but he’s never consistently played well at center as oppose to wing. The Flyers bouncing Schenn around from center to wing may not have helped him but ultimately, the onus is on the player to find that next gear.
On the heels of a big win over the Islanders yesterday, Schenn is currently playing well. He has six points in his last five games and dare I say, has played the best hockey of his career. The real key is to see if Schenn can continue this for a stretch of ten to fifteen games before we definitively say that he has turned the corner. It would be a big boost to the Flyers if he has.