(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
While 2013-14 saw Brayden Schenn reach the 20 goal mark for the first time, his season was considered by many to be fairly underwhelming. Despite the fact that he shared a large amount of ice time with the struggling Vincent Lecavalier, it was a bit concerning that he was unable to drive possession effectively in relatively sheltered minutes. The end result was a player who was very difficult to evaluate. Charlie O’Connor of BroadStreetHockey put it very well in his recap of Schenn’s 2013-14 season:
Before giving up on Brayden Schenn as an impact scoring forward in the NHL, it might be best to see his full-season production when not tied to an aging player like Briere or Lecavalier.
26 games into the 2014-15 season, Schenn seems to be making the most of the opportunity to finally play in the absence of a possession-dragging winger. He is on pace to set career highs in goals, assists, points, points/60 and many possession metrics. After many people, myself included, started to show some doubts, Brayden Schenn is starting to look like a quality top 6 forward at the NHL level.
Schenn currently sits in second amongst all Flyers in even strength points/60, ahead of Claude Giroux and only behind a pretty good player named Jakub Voracek. Here’s a look at Schenn’s point production and how it compares to the rest of his career.
Brayden Schenn career production data (From stats.hockeyanalysis.com)
While he is riding a high individual shooting percentage, the team shooting percentage while he is on ice is right in line with his previous seasons, meaning that his level of point production should be fairly sustainable. Sustained production at this rate (along with sustained PP production) would see Schenn smash his career high and finish with 57 points. His p/60 rate of 2.08 is currently 79th amongst all NHL forwards (>100 min played) and is right in line with the rate that is expected of top 6 and borderline top 3 players.
The most disappointing aspect of Schenn’s 2013-14 season was his inability to drive possession effectively. Although it was clear that Lecavalier was a massive drag on possession numbers, his 47.9 CF% in fairly sheltered minutes left a lot to be desired. Alongside much more talented linemates this season, Schenn has begun to demonstrate some ability in terms of puck possession. He is one of 4 Flyers who is above 50% CF for the season, and he has had a positive impact on 9 of his 10 most common ice mates this season. Here is an illustration of Schenn’s possession numbers with his 10 most common ice mates.
Brayden Schenn 2014-15 WOWYs (Data from NaturalStatTrick.com)
Certainly a lot of those numbers are driven by the fact that Schenn has spent a fair amount of ice time with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and has also started in the offensive zone more than any other Flyer. He might not be solely responsible for driving possession with many of those teammates, but at the very least he has demonstrated the ability to be a positive possession player when set up with skilled linemates.
Stephen Burtch of SportsNet.Ca has developed an intriguing concept called dCorsi (Delta Corsi). dCorsi measures a player’s actual possession numbers against their expected numbers based on several variables that include age, position, linemates and usage. Schenn (+46.4) is currently 4th on the Flyers in terms of dCorsi impact and is 31st amongst all NHLers. While these relative numbers are most definitely dependent upon one’s team and system, it is clear that Schenn is having a positive impact in terms of puck possession this year.
Scoring chance data also supports the conclusion that Schenn has elevated his play during this young season. Andrew D. of LetsGoFlyers.Net has awesomely tracked scoring chance data over the past couple seasons (Toss him a follow on Twitter @Drewski89). Schenn finished the 2013-14 season with a scoring chance differential of -10, posting an on-ice rate of 15.1 SC/60. After the first 22 games of the 2014-15 season he had already posted a differential of +29, sporting a much improved on-ice rate of 18.6 SC/60. Nice to see Schenn making progress in this area as well.
Much of the attention this season has deservedly gone to Jakub Voracek and that bum Claude Giroux. With those two in the spotlight, Brayden Schenn has quietly progressed very nicely. After two seasons spent playing with struggling veteran wingers, Schenn is finally beginning to emerge as an offensive threat in a top 6 role. We are still looking at a fairly small sample here, but he appears to be taking a big step towards becoming the player who everyone expected him to be when he was acquired by the Flyers in 2011. Here’s hoping it continues.