The Flyers have made big news today in the hockey world by recalling the young gun, Brayden Schenn. Plus Schenn was a huge part of the deal with shipping Mike Richards to the LA Kings and with being one of hockey’s best young talents and absolutely tore it up with the Phantoms (4G-4A-8PTS in four games.) But hey, let’s be honest here — Schenn would’ve been with the parent club from Day 1 had economics not played a role.
What does Schenn have to say: “I was wanting to start the year with the Flyers this year, but with the cap, with what mine was at and what the team was at, I guess coming off a shoulder injury — I went down there, played some games, played in all situations and for me I didn’t try to let that affect me,” said Schenn. “I just tried to go out there and play as well as I can and I think I’ve got some confidence now and played quite a few minutes each game down there. I feel good and ready now.” And I hope for his sake that he really is ready because the City of Brotherly Love can turn ugly real fast.
The Flyers were very public with sending Schenn started in the minors so he could recover from a shoulder injury, but the $1.75 million they saved off the salary cap (Schenn’s contract had a bonus structure where his cap hit would drop if he played one game in the AHL) was hard to ignore. According to Capgeek.com, the Flyers have the NHL’s highest payroll with no wiggle room whatsoever. This explains why GM Paul Holmgren sent Zac Rinaldo (who KOed Drew Doughty over the weekend) and Harry Zolnierczyk (who scored his first NHL goal last night) down to the AHL today — he needed space for Schenn.
“They didn’t really say if it was short or long term,” said Schenn. “They just kind of mentioned that they had a little bit of cap problems and for me to have to miss the first game there just because of my cap and then with the other stuff that was going on there to just have to wait it out.
“And now that I get to get the call, hopefully I’m there to stay and I’m just gonna try to prove that in every way.”
Now the question becomes whom Schenn plays with as a Flyer. On Wednesday, the Flyers had Sean Couturier centering Max Talbot on the right wing and Andreas Nodl on the left. Matt Read, Scott Hartnell and Jody Shelley formed another line. But Peter Laviolette didn’t discount the idea of an all-rookie line with Schenn, Couturier and Read.
“You know, if that were to happen here, I can tell you that I probably would trust the three guys just based on what I’ve seen in their performance and the way they play the game,” said Laviolette. “Sean is going to be really good defender. Matt also is used in situations where we’re defending the penalty kill and seems to be a smart defensive player. I don’t think it’s impossible for something to happen like that.”
Maybe not impossible, but it sure seems unlikely. That would force Scott Hartnell, who has already seen a drop in minutes, to drop even further in a role on the fourth line. It would also force either Schenn or Couturier to play the wing when both are natural centers.
All that is known is that Schenn can produce and the Flyers have been exceptionally good and they need to continue this momentum to be a threat in the East.