Doug Armstrong shocked a lot of fans when he was able to trade for Brayden Schenn. Nobody really expected him to be as good as he was in 2017-18 though.
When St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong made the deal to acquire Brayden Schenn, most fans were happier to be rid of Jori Lehtera than anything. They would have taken a bag of wet socks to rid themselves of Lehtera’s contract. Getting a good player was just a bonus.
The Blues kept punching that bonus box like a coin box from Mario. Schenn outperformed even the loftiest expectations, making the trade look like the hockey version of Lou Brock coming to St. Louis.
Everyone knew Schenn was good and capable of more than he showed in Philadelphia. He really emerged as a top line center, however, and showed a knack for scoring that some did not think he had.
Final Grade: A+
After a fantastic first season with the Blues, it was almost impossible to downgrade Schenn on anything. If you wanted to be extremely picky, you could downgrade him for comments made.
Reportedly, Schenn made comments about Vladimir Tarasenko that were less than flattering. However, even if true, all that was really said was that Schenn never knew where he was going to be on the ice, insinuating that Tarasenko does not play within the system. First, the system stinks and second, they still played pretty well together.
Comments like that are better left in the locker room. Sometimes the truth needs to be said, though. Whether this causes any rift remains to be seen.
Keeping the focus on 2017-18, it was a fantastic season for Schenn. He set several career bests in his first season with the Blues.
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Coming from Philadelphia, the knock against him was he could only score on the power play. Schenn stuffed that in Flyers fa s faces by scoring 28 goals and only eight coming with the man-advantage.
His 70 points was 11 points higher than anything he had ever done in Philly too. Schenn also relished the chance to be a full-time center, which was something not afforded to him out east.
He set new career highs in minutes played, with 19:44. He won more faceoffs than any time in his career and also set a personal best by winning 48% of his draws.
Schenn did throw less hits than he did with the Flyers, but he was no less effective defensively. He set a career mark for takeaways and still had 154 hits as well.
Schenn’s possession metrics all took major jumps in a positive direction. His point share numbers also went up by a good margin.
The only rain on his parade in 2017-18 was the fact that the Blues missed the playoffs. He was one of the few players that could not be faulted for that.
Beyond just the pure numbers though, Schenn showed some key leadership with this team even as the new guy. In a game in Colorado, he dropped the gloves as soon as the puck dropped. Some fans don’t like that old-school tactic, but the team had been floundering. They needed a spark and Schenn provided that in that moment.
He stuck up for teammates when needed to and got on guys if that was needed as well. His qualities popped more because so much was lacking on this particular Blues team, but they are qualities you want even when your team is hitting on all cylinders.
The big question now is when do you work out an extension. I would find it hard to believe Armstrong has not, at least, broached the subject.
You don’t want to fall into the trap the Blues have in the past and reward one season with a lot of money. That said, you don’t want to let Schenn walk after 2018-19 because you did not re-sign him when you were the only one that could negotiate.
Hopefully that will take care of itself. The Blues have a top player in Schenn who has a special link on the ice with Jaden Schwartz. It would be a shame to lose that.
For all we know, Schenn might return to Earth from his lofty heights this coming season. There were no signs of any falloff coming though, so we should expect the same next season. Even an A season would be good enough, but Schenn gets the high grade for this year and deserved it.