Waiting is the hardest part.
After only nine career NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings over a two-year period, Brayden Schenn quickly became familiar with the phrase.
Following an offseason trade to the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that was a perfect fit for the 20-year old center man to play right away, it seemed as though Schenn finally had his shot.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
The Saskatoon native started the season with the Adirondack Phantoms in a creative move by general manager Paul Holmgren.
The Flyers GM took advantage of a clause in Schenn’s contract that stated he was to forfeit a particular bonus if he began the year in the AHL. The move wasn’t all business though; the forward also sustained a separated shoulder during training camp.
Although circumstances seemed bad, Schenn didn’t play like it.
In his first game with the Phantoms, he recorded two assists. In his second game, he recorded three goals and another assist. In his first four games in Philadelphia’s system, he tallied an astonishing total of eight points (four goals, four assists).
Once he was fully recovered from injury, Schenn made his Flyers debut on October 20th against the Washington Capitals. It was less than memorable.
Three games later, he broke a bone in his foot while blocking a shot against the Montreal Canadiens in late October.
He returned from the injury in early December in time for a two-game Western road-trip against the Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes.
Against the Coyotes, Schenn sustained another injury and had to leave the game early. It was later diagnosed as a concussion.
In a modern sporting world where one hit to the head could mean the end of a career, Schenn’s turbulent beginnings were worrisome.
That is until his latest return.
Through 18 total games in his NHL career, he had yet to score a goal.
Following the biggest event of the NHL’s regular season, the Winter Classic, that statement no longer rang true. In addition to scoring his first goal, the forward excelled in the faceoff circle, winning 75% of his draws.
In the subsequent games following the outdoor event, Schenn has proven that the game wasn’t an isolated event.
In his last five games, he has registered a total of three points (two goals and one assist), the most recent of which came in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a sloppy first, it was Schenn’s goal in the second that gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
While Schenn’s production has been a welcome addition, his presence also adds depth to an already deep forward group. On top of that, it seems as though he has aided in getting some production out of James van Riemsdyk.
Since joining Schenn on the third line, van Riemsdyk has registered three points, including a two-goal effort against the Chicago Blackhawks.
As is the case with most players on the Flyers roster, it’s still too early to tell what Schenn will bring down the road. Schenn has proven in the past that he is no stranger to injuries.
It will certainly spoil his career if that continues to be the case.
However, if his most recent surge is any indication to what the future holds, then the young forward could turn out to be one of the most important building blocks in the team’s future.
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