The Flyers made a few big trades a while ago sending out some guys named Richards and Carter. We received a great package in return with guys like Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn. The first three guys have already made their mark on Philly and have received tons of praise. Couturier made his name known for his shutting down of Evgeni Malkin in last year’s playoffs, Voracek is taking the NHL by storm and has really broken out this year, and Wayne Simmonds put up a career high 29 goals last year and is tied for the team lead with 9 right now. Ask most people about Schenn and they will probably tell you he’s got a long way to go to reach the status of Mike Richards. While that may be true, most people are missing the fantastic development of Schenn and its happening right before their very eyes.
There is a lot of talk about sample size in the advanced stats community. How many games must a player play before we can conclude that the level he’s playing at is not over his head, and that he really is that good? This 48 game season will cause a lot of people to second guess breakout stars as there aren’t enough games to really get a good reading on a player. Brayden Schenn has 19 points in 22 games this year. Is he going to be around a point-per-game for the rest of his career? Is this his new baseline? Of course not, we can’t make that determination after just 22 games. However, has it only been 22 games that Schenner has been performing at this elite level? No. Let’s take a closer look:
|First 47 of 2011-12||47||9||3||12||0.26||20.9|
|Last 7 of 2011-12||7||3||3||6||0.86||70.3|
|Last 40 Games||40||12||22||34||0.85||69.7|
As we see from the table above and our memories from last year, Brayden had a rough start in Philly. He had an injured shoulder, got sent down, got called back up and concussed, sent back down only to finally return and then turn his game around. In his first 47 games as a Flyer he scored at a pace that if it were extrapolated over an 82 game season he would have only registered 21 points. That is obviously not what you expect from the top prospect in the game, as Brayden was last year. Then something changed: his line. He was given the opportunity to play alongside of Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds and he hasn’t really looked back. His last 7 games of 2012 were fantastic, his playoffs were fantastic, and he’s been fantastic this year. His slow start (1 point in his first 6 games this year) can be attributed to the lack of Danny Briere (he was hurt) and the fact that he was placed on a line with Zac Rinaldo (he of zero offensive ability). He’s been over a point per game since game 7 this year and he’s really showed no signs of slowing down (last game his sick feed sprung Simmonds on a breakaway for the game winner).
The point I want to make to tie this all together is that he’s not just having a fantastic 20 games. If you take his last 7 games of last regular season, his 11 playoff games and his first 22 from this year you have a pretty decent sized 40 game sample. While it is only a half season, it is quite telling. Over those 40 games he’s tallied 12 goals and 22 assists, good for .85 points per game. Extrapolate that over a full 82 game season and you get 70 points. Last season (2011-12) only 23 players scored 70 or more points. If Brayden can keep this pace he will be considered among the game’s elite by this time next year.
I mention how Voracek has busted onto the scene this year, leading the Flyers in scoring; check out the table below to see how his development as a Flyer has gone:
|First 63 of 2011-12||63||11||23||34||0.54||44.3|
|Last 15 of 2011-12||15||7||8||15||1.00||82.0|
|Last 49 Games||49||18||32||50||1.02||83.7|
If you take his last 15 games of the 2011-12 season, the 2011-12 playoffs, and this year so far he’s scoring over a point per game. Considering he’s playing with Giroux, there is no reason to think that he’s going to slow down. Although we'll always wonder as Flyers fans, "what if we didn't make those trades", we really can't argue with the talent we've received in return.