It’s been about two weeks since the Philadelphia Flyers season ended at the hands of the New York Rangers. I took some time to reflect on the Flyers season and I considered it a success, especially when considering the dreadful start they had to the season. During this season I specifically chronicled what I believed to be a defining season in the development of Brayden Schenn. You can find part one here and part two here.
There were some encouraging signs in the beginning of the year that he was becoming a solid young piece in the Flyers organization. However, as the season came to a close the more disappointed I became in Brayden’s development. The centerpiece of the Mike Richards trade involving the Los Angeles Kings, the number five overall draft pick underwhelmed me in his third season.
But I began wondering, had Brayden been dragged down because of his linemates, in particular Vincent Lecavalier? For many of you who watched the dumpster fire that was Vinny’s season, the answer to that question won’t be surprising. What is surprising is just how much of an anchor Vinny was on Brayden’s neck.
To help illustrate how Vinny dragged down Brayden I went ahead and made these handy charts.
The chart below is the raw data I used to make the graph above.
What you are looking are the three Flyers forwards that each spent the most time on-ice with Brayden Schenn. I excluded Wayne Simmonds from this list because I believe he will be staying put on Brayden’s line come next season. Even though there has been talk about moving Sean Couturier to the 2nd line I am working under the assumption Coots will be staying put.
The accompanying number at each point on the graph indicates the total amount of ice-time each respective player played with or without Brayden Schenn during the course of the season. As you can see the sample sizes for Scott Hartnell and Michael Raffl are small but very encouraging. With Raffl on his line Brayden’s CF% jumped almost 11 percentage points to 55.2%. With Hartnell on his line you again see an uptick in puck possession, an increase of almost 7%.
The most damning of those numbers is the almost 6% gain Brayden receives from Vinny just not playing on his line at all. That speaks volumes to just how poorly Vinny had played this season. I can’t help but think what might have been if Brayden had been paired with Simmonds and just about anybody else.
Now it may seem that I am shouldering all the blame of Brayden’s stalled development on Vinny. Brayden had a great opportunity to really show his skill set being the center on the Flyers second line and failed to do so. There were plenty of examples on an individual basis where it was evident that Brayden had not improved.
- Underwhelming finishing on quality scoring chances
- Failure to keep consistent offensive zone pressure
- Poor passing decisions leading to odd man rushes
- Regrettable defensive zone positioning leading to goals against
Personally I’d like to give the 22 year-old Baby Schenn one more opportunity to show if he was worth the 5th overall pick. Maybe he’d flourish if he had a player opposite him on the wing who wasn’t playing out of position all season (Vincent Lecavalier).
All this could be a moot point though if the Flyers decide to move Brayden who is a restricted free agent this off-season. With the logjam the Flyers are currently experiencing at the center position and with a HUGE need to acquire a goal scoring winger he could provide the Flyers with a coveted trade asset.
I’d like to believe that Vinny’s poor showing this season led to Brayden Schenn’s struggles this season. The question however is how much stock do you put into Brayden Schenn possibly just not being the impact player the Philadelphia Flyers thought they had acquired? I think you could make a better assessment if, like I said, he was given one more year to prove himself.
Stats provided by Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Graphs made with Google Docs.