Does A Trade For Brayden Schenn Makes Sense For The Maple Leafs?
The obvious question for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs is— would a move for Schenn makes sense for the Maple Leafs and general manager Dave Nonis?
Originally drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Schenn established himself as a dominate player in the Western Hockey League and on the International Hockey scene.
Schenn had a cup of coffee with the Kings before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in a deal which saw the Kings’ trade defenseman Jack Johnson and forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn and a 1st round draft pick to the Flyers for forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Richards and Carter ended up being the final pieces to the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory, Johnson was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Schenn and Simmonds have had up and down moments with the Flyers.
Through 129 NHL contests, Schenn has registered 26 goals and 32 assists for a total of 58 points to go along with a paltry minus-20 rating. Through 19 games with Philadelphia this season, Schenn leads the Flyers with 12 points (six goals, six assists), including three power play markers and two game winning goals.
Known as a talented two-way centre with good playmaking ability and an excellent hockey IQ, Schenn has failed to live up to the high expectations that scouts had for him. Injuries and what many feel has been an inconsistent effort, have led to less than desirable results for Schenn thus far in his career.
Like many young NHL players, Schenn (who stands 6’1” and weighs in at 190 pounds) needs to get bigger and stronger in order to compete with the top forwards and defenseman in the league.
There is no question that Schenn has the desire to win and compete, but the question remains—can he put it all together (skills, speed, size, instincts) and stay healthy enough to be an elite NHL centre?
With Nazem Kadri emerging as a number one centre, David Bolland filling a great role on the third line and Tyler Bozak able to fill a first or second line role, one wonders if the Maple Leafs (who are adjusting to having all three players out of the lineup due to injuries and the three game suspension to Kadri) could really benefit from the acquisition of Schenn?
The Leafs are set on the fourth line with Jay McClement doing an admiral job of shutting down the opposition both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill, which means there is no need to push Bolland down.
While Bozak and Kadri are not what the experts would call “first line centres”, they both continue to have upside (especially Kadri) and the chemistry between Bozak and sniper Phil Kessel has been excellent over the years.
If the Maple Leafs believe in Kadri, and there is plenty of evidence they do, why bring in a player of similar size and skill at the cost of what would likely include highly touted defensemen Jake Gardiner or Morgan Rielly?
Sure, the Maple Leafs could use Schenn now, but when all hands are back on deck, the Leafs will employ Bozak, Kadri, Bolland, McClement and recent addition Peter Holland down the middle. Adding Schenn to that mix, while perhaps an upgrade in the minds of many fans, might just be counter-productive.
Both Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri are expected to be back on Thursday when the Maple Leafs face the Nashville Predators. With that in mind, the acquisition of Schenn would have to be looked at on the long term, not as a quick fix. Nonis basically did this when he traded for Holland— a long term project, that serves as a short term fix for now.
At 6’3”, 200 pounds, Holland has the ideal frame to be successful at the NHL level. He has a decent all-round game and, with the right coaching and opportunity, should turn into a scoring threat.
Holland does not have Schenn’s physical prowess or compete level, but he is talented and has offensive upside.
So, with Kadri already demonstrating that he belongs in the NHL (he registered 44 points in 48 games last season and he has 14 points in 18 games this season), Bozak filling a role on the first line, Bolland solidified as your third line centre, McClement on the fourth line and Holland able to develop at his own pace, why trade for Schenn?
A year ago fans and management alike would have died and went to heaven if Schenn found his way to Toronto. That said, when you consider Toronto’s depth at centre and the considerable price they would have to give up to land Schenn, it says here Dave Nonis should take a pass and run with what he has.
Verdict: While highly talented, Schenn is injury prone and has fallen short of expectations. If Kadri had not demonstrated that he belongs as a top-six forward I would say pull the trigger, take a chance on Schenn rounding into form and make the deal. That said, when you consider all the angles, a move for Schenn makes little sense at this time.
Stand pat— look for depth at the deadline.