PHILADELPHIA | Brayden Schenn probably should have started the season with the Philadelphia Flyers. Considered the top prospect in the NHL, he was good in camp and only got sent to the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms because of his contract.
With the Flyers squeezed up against the salary cap, his missing one NHL game this season dropped his cap hit from $3.1 million to $1.69 million.
“[The Flyers] just kind of mentioned that they had a little bit of cap problems and for me to have to miss the first game there just because of my cap and then with the other stuff that was going on there to just have to wait it out,” Schenn said Wednesday.
His exile to Glens Falls, N.Y., is now over, and Schenn will make his Flyers debut Thursday night against the Capitals at Wells Fargo Center. The 20-year-old said he did have a little more zip in his step at the morning skate.
“Real excited. Obviously it’s always nice to get the call,” he said. “After a few games in the American League, I feel like I’m more confident, more ready. Just excited to be up here.”
Schenn said Thursday morning he hadn’t heard what line he’d be playing on. The idea of an all-rookie line featuring Schenn, No. 8 overall pick Sean Couturier and Matt Read (six points in five games) is intriguing.
“You know, if that were to happen here, I can tell you that I probably would trust the three guys just based on what I’ve seen in their performance and the way they play the game,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Sean is going to be really good defender. Matt also is used in situations where we’re defending the penalty kill and seems to be a smart defensive player. I don’t think it’s impossible for something to happen like that.”
Adding Schenn into the lineup – effectively replacing tough guy and penalty machine Zac Rinadlo – brings a boatload more offensive potential to an already deep Philadelphia team.
“They’ve always been able to score and we know that as far as their depth that they’ve got the deepest talent that we’ve seen this year,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Granted we’ve played Pittsburgh and Tampa, both high-scoring teams, but nobody has as much depth that you can get into the third and fourth lines and guys can still score goals.”
This is not Schenn’s NHL debut, but it’s his first game in orange and black. He was the centerpiece in the trade that sent Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings. He played eight games with the Kings last year and one the previous season.
Schenn had four goals and four assists with the Phantoms during his AHL cameo, and teammates certainly remember from preseason how good he is.
“He’s a great player, really smart offensively. He seems like he’s always in the right position,” Read said. “He’s going to be a great player in the NHL someday and it’s just going to take him some time and as he’s getting the opportunity just make the best of it.”
Thursday night is Schenn’s first opportunity to do that.