Hey, now that you’re done cringing at that pun I can tell you why I decided to try my hand at an NHL headline-style title.
The Schenn brothers, as we know, have been to subject of trade rumors for at least three years. Year after year we’ve heard that Brayden Schenn needs to get better, but he’s part of the core. Rumors heat up, become hot takes and get to the point where they’re supposed to burst and then…nothing. Schenn is still with the team year after year. Never has management seemed to hint at much displeasure with Schenn. Until this season.
The first hints of hesitation were back in the offseason. While other players were signing big contract extensions, Hextall wasn’t rushing to lock Brayden up.
“I’ve spoken with Brayden’s agent a number of times over the summer about different things and the subject’s never come up. It’s not something we’re in a hurry to do and I’m assuming they feel the same way.”
Hextall definitely wanted to wait and see if Schenn could solidify himself as a part of the Flyers core gong forward telling reporters that, “[It’s] not that we wouldn’t like to get him signed, but probably [want to] get him another year to see where things flush out,”. What has happened so far in Schenn’s “show-me” year is that he’s battling new competition in 21-year-old Scott Laughton.
So far training camp and preseason have been a confusing time for B. Schenn. At the start of camp, Schenn was regularly practicing on a 5th line with two AHL players, Chris Porter and Scott Laughton. Schenn had a strong preseason, scoring 3 goals and 1 assist over 4 games, but still hasn’t found favor with Hextall.
Hextall started the media fire up when he made very different comments on Laughton and Schenn’s performances so far. When asked about Laughton, Hextall had nothing but good things to say, almost gushing over Laughton’s effort telling media “I think Scotty showed us quite a bit, I like what I’ve seen from Scotty, he’s a hungry player, and he’s absolutely worked his butt off. He, to my knowledge, is in the best shape that I’ve seen him in and he’s making a good impression. He’s obviously got work to do, but what I’ve seen I’ve liked.”
When he was asked about Schenn, Hextall’s short reply of “Brayden? Brayden, I think he’s been OK,” got people wondering about Schenn’s future in Philadelphia. To add to people’s confusion, Schenn has been getting time on a line with regular NHlers; recently playing on a line with Read and Lecavalier. He’s also been getting steady power play time.
Hextall’s comments and Schenn’s placement can be seen one of two ways. Either Hextall is trying to motivate Schenn through negative reinforcement, or, Schenn is about to get traded. Since Hextall’s comments there have been a number of speculative articles reporting that Schenn will be gone before the start of the season, as will his brother who has faced similar preseason trouble. I say they’re speculative because there’s not really any support. They’re guessing at Hextall’s intentions.
At the same time, Scott Laughton has been gaining favor. People have started to see Laughton as a new shut down center who can free Couturier up to take on a more offensive role. It’s come down to Schenn vs. Laughton. If Schenn gets traded Laughton has a spot to fill. If Laughton makes the roster despite Schenn, someone on the 4th line is going to start the season as a healthy scratch.
Hopefully this season can bring an end to the Schenn rumors. Either he will sign an extension and be a definite core forwards piece, or he will get a chance on a new team. Hopefully, the issues with inconsistency can be hammered out under Hakstol and (maybe) steady linemates. With the Flyers lack of secondary scoring in the past few seasons, a consistent Schenn would be a big part in moving closer to the playoffs.