Obtaining Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs was about far more than brotherly love. Sure, his sibling Brayden Schenn joined the Philadelphia Flyers‘ front lines last season, but general manager Paul Holmgren kept an eye on Luke’s blue line work from afar during the last hockey year. Early results seem to support “Homer’s” judgement.
Considering the loss of Chris Pronger last season and the departure of Matt Carle through free agency, the Flyers had to add some defensemen who could eat minutes. So far Schenn is averaging over 19 minutes of ice time per game. Only Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn have logged more game time moments during the early stages of this still-new season.
Moving forward this season may, or may not, be possible. But, any progressive motion toward the playoffs will have to come (in part) through sound defensive play among each of its three defensive pairings. This year’s team (and all available options) may not allow Holmgren to actually make a postseason push. But, he’s sure to try.
The importance of dealing one front line asset (James van Riemsdyk) for a young back line player last summer was smart, regardless of how this season plays out. This fifth-year player has shown a consistent aggressive nature that is exactly what the Flyers’ defensive contingent needs.
As Timonen will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Schenn’s stock could rise to higher levels by next fall. In the meantime, this 23-year-old appears to be one of Peter Laviolette’s long-term core D-men.