The Oilers Rig

Concerning Brayden Schenn

schenn-loss-1

There has been some  chatter over the last few weeks about Brayden Schenn being a possible target of the Oilers. One assumes it started out of an aged rumour from a Philadelphia sports blog. I have finally decided to find the time to address it…

First… as retweeted by @AzorcanGlobal on the 29th…

And then on Tuesday night (the 10th) @lowetide_ posted this reply to some comments on his site about a suggested acquisition of Oil King Samuelsson…

…it has to be Brayden Schenn at the very least, not Samuelsson.

(You can go back and follow the conversation if you’d like, but it is more secondary info when compared to the point of this post.)

The leap from Samuelsson to Brayden Schenn is a large one (in that they are two completely unrelated players). Since his name has come up a couple of times and people seem generally OK with the possibility I figured I’d open up the door and see if Schenn is any sort of solution for the Oilers.

In 3 seasons as a Flyer (and 9 games as a King) the former 5th overall pick has played 192 games scoring 40 goals, 87 points and 112 penalty minutes. He has just completed his ELC so will be looking at some sort of raise from the contract that carried an $875K cap hit.

Schenn hits all the right notes in the unverifiable character department with some fans. He is described as a player willing to go into the corners to dig out loose pucks and is viewed by some as a guy with a 2 way game that will emerge. He headlined for Canada at the 2011 World Juniors scoring 18 points in 7 games (7 pts ahead of 2nd place Evgeny Kuznetsov) and holds the ever important Canadian passport, hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All that adds up to music for many but I want to know the real story.

Enter fancy stats… Boy do they paint a stark picture.

Broadstreet Hockey

Broadstreet’s year in review of Schenn paints an interesting picture. Some quotes… (a hat-tip to Rom for the article link)

What many fans were hoping for was a third season leap similar to the one that saw Mike Richards go from inconsistent offensive threat to point per game player in 2007-08. Unfortunately, Schenn’s development path would not mirror that of the former Flyers captain.

and this…

For Schenn to provide value, he needs to score. His contributions aren’t coming from anything else.

and this…

What Schenn seems to be lacking is a particular standout skillset. He isn’t slow, but he’s also not a burner. He’s a good but not great passer. He can score but lacks a sniper’s mentality and has solid but not elite hockey sense.

Not exactly glowing endorsements and cause for concern if you have any desire for the Oilers’ to explore the possibility of acquiring him.

The way I see it is that the Oilers already have a guy in the 2C spot much like Schenn in description. Mostly lacking a particular standout skillset? Check (although Gagner is a deft passer). Who’s biggest contributions will probably come from offence? Check. One who fans are hoping will make the jump to what they expected him to be? Check. They are clearly different players in style, but the complaints match quite succinctly.

The article does talk about Schenn having been saddled with two declining players during his first 3 seasons, first Briere and then Lecavalier, and with that there my be a bit of an anchor effect dragging Schenn down. I’m not so sure how much weight we can put on that though.

Extra Skater, Hockey Abstract (Vollman) & Behind the Net

I’ve heard the idiom “two-way player” in discussions about Schenn a few times now. What the Oilers really need in the 2C slot, and are severely lacking, is a two-way center. I would describe a two way player as someone who can be counted on to…

  1. Take on tougher assignments.
  2. Win the possession battle, more often than not.
  3. Do better relative to your teammates in the possession battle (with circumstances considered).
  4. Start in the defensive zone a little more, relative to your teammates.
  5. Tasked with PK time.
  6. Chip in offensively at EV.
  7. Do the little things that coaches like on the defensive side of the puck.

Concerning Brayden Schenn…

 

 

When you look at 2013-14 Schenn through the eyes of the Vollman Sledgehammer certain items come into view. I’m going to address those items in the same order as my two-way player criteria. (All values 5v5 unless otherwise noted)
  1. Brayden Schenn has not been assigned tough competition. Quite the opposite actually. Of the top 10 Flyers forwards in TOI last year (>20 gp)  Schenn ranked the lowest in quality of competition (Corsi QoC).
  2. The possession battle follows then same line. You’d expect a highly touted player, on a decent team, who’s calling card will be offence and playing easy competition to be winning the battle. Not so much for Mr. B.S. He’s 8th in FF% (47.5%) among the top 12 TOI fowards leading only Downie, Lecavalier, Hall and Rinaldo.
  3. Relative possession should follow on ice possession and it does. 9th of 12 in FF% Rel (-2.4%).
  4. Although he’s not getting an pure O-zone push, he’s among a group of players starting in the offensive zone more often with his own # sitting at ~55%.
  5. Brayden Schenn spent 12:52 on the ice short handed last season. 9 seconds a game. He’s not a penalty killer at this point.
  6. For even strength scoring Schenn ranks 7th of 12 and just outside of the top 6 producers at 1.69 PTS/60. Couple this with his 4th line quality of competition and I’d say he leaves fans wanting.
  7. From Broadstreet and the now departed Holmgren had this to say about Schenn…  “(he) showed flashes of that style (Mike Richards style) during the 2013-14 season, but it wasn’t visible on a nightly basis. Holmgren mentioned in his end of season interview that Schenn took a leap when he realized he had to play “a hard game” all of the time. “

From those numbers and from what he is being characterized by some as, in my opinion, it would call it a stretch to describe Schenn as a “two-way player”. Fairly far from it in fact. He’s highly sheltered with middling results.

The Wowys 

The following facts (numbers) solidify my resolve in saying “no thanks” to the possibility of Schenn landing in Edmonton.

Most Flyer players, last season, has had better possession results while NOT on the ice with Brayden Schenn. Of the 13 players that spent more than 100 minutes with Schenn during the 13-14 season, only 2 had a better 5v5 CF% with him compared to without him.

2 players. They are…

    1. Michael Raffl (11th most minutes with). His CF% went from 52.3% without Schenn in ~605 5v5 minutes to 54.2% with Schenn in ~133 5v5 minutes with Schenn.
    2. Andrew Macdonald (12th most minutes with). His CF% went from 44.2% without in ~1356 5v5 minutes (includes time with the Islanders) to 47.0% with in ~120 5v5 minutes.

Wow.

Here is the complete list of Flyers (>100 min with) and their Schenn wowys courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.

    TOI With CF% Schenn TOI WO CF% Teammate TOI WO CF% Teammate ‘With’ diff
SCHENN, B. 1047:18:00 47.8 0.0 0.0
SIMMONDS 788:25:00 48.1 258:53:00 46.7 245:12:00 49.7 -1.6
STREIT 417:28:00 49.1 629:50:00 46.9 918:26:00 50.6 -1.5
SCHENN, L. 416:20:00 46.2 630:58:00 49.0 692:23:00 48.7 -2.5
LECAVALIER 415:27:00 45.0 631:51:00 49.7 408:29:00 45.3 -0.3
GROSSMANN 283:13:00 46.7 764:05:00 48.1 948:19:00 47.3 -0.6
HARTNELL 278:12:00 51.9 769:06:00 46.3 735:46:00 55.3 -3.4
COBURN 252:29:00 47.4 794:49:00 47.9 1147:48:00 52.2 -4.8
TIMONEN 206:30:00 49.7 840:48:00 47.3 757:30:00 56.6 -6.9
MESZAROS 197:25:00 47.9 849:53:00 47.8 586:58:00 48.5 -0.6
GUSTAFSSON 174:29:00 47.0 872:49:00 48.0 303:26:00 49.2 -2.2
RAFFL 133:54:00 54.2 913:24:00 46.9 604:54:00 52.3 1.9
MACDONALD 120:39:00 47.0 926:39:00 47.9 1356:56:00 44.2 2.8
VORACEK 103:16:00 46.3 944:02:00 47.9 953:26:00 56.2 -9.9

Those numbers point to a young player who has a bit to figure out. He has been touted as a emerging 2C, but nothing about his wowys shout that he can be trusted to make players around him better, even in a sheltered 2C role. His wowys over 3 seasons are more of the same. Not many guys see more possession success with him (in moderate to significant “with minutes”).

As I mentioned earlier, he has been saddled with declining Lecavalier and Briere during much of his time as a Flyer. Evidence to that is his CF without Lecavalier taking a sizable jump (4.5%). Lecavalier was fully an anchor this past season, even more so than Schenn, so there may be a chance that Schenn’s numbers would have been better had he not played 415 of his minutes with the former “Next Lemieux”. With that said, it could be case of the coaches thinking lets hide both of them from the tough minutes because they both are defensive liabilities.

With Lecavalier’s introduction my anti-Schenn argument goes a little off the rails. Instead of going further and summarizing why the Oilers shouldn’t entertain acquiring him, I’m going to make a 180 turn and explore what could go right.

Post to follow this in the coming days:)

Thanks for reading.

EDIT: Here’s Part 2

Feel free to share some banter with me on Twitter, @borisnikov, be it hockey or otherwise. Also feel free to check out some of my past posts.

Here are some more Brayden Schenn related posted from Broadstreet Hockey (again a hat tip to Rom for the links).

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  1. Pingback: Concerning Brayden Schenn Part 2 - The Oilers Rig

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