Much of the focus for the Philadelphia Flyers this summer, in terms of who is key to their success, has fallen on Claude Giroux. After his impressive season last year, Giroux is expected to shoulder the load, perhaps take on the captaincy, and become a force in the league for years to come.
As lofty as those expectations may be, there’s no reason to think that he won’t meet them. He’s already a star and only needs to add the ‘super’ to the beginning of that label to truly establish himself. That shouldn’t take too long into the new year. However, as important as he is, he may not be the biggest key to the Flyers’ success this season.
That responsibility may be on the shoulders of Brayden Schenn.
Schenn was acquired in the deal that sent Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings last summer. While the deal obviously worked out well for the Kings last year, it could be the Flyers who get the last laugh, at least as far as the exchange of talent.
After battling injury, mainly concussions, for the first half of the year, we saw some impressive things from Brayden Schenn. He really performed well towards the end of the year, and finished with 12 goals in 54 games. The expectations for Schenn and some of the other sophomores heading into their second year are going to be high.
But while Sean Couturier and Matt Read will be expected to perform at a high level, Schenn is going to have the highest expectations of the three, mostly because of where he’ll be playing: right in the middle of that second line.
The Flyers are without outstanding scoring depth. While they’re not as shallow as some teams, they’re going to be pretty top heavy and those top two lines will be required to score a lot. Schenn will be playing between Wayne Simmonds and Danny Briere, a trio which will be expected to be scoring regularly.
No one is expecting Schenn to make a jump to an elite level next season, but he’s going to have to perform more consistently. Without much depth down the middle behind him capable of playing in that role, Schenn is going to be a key piece of the Flyers in the new year, if not the piece.