Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/17/11

By Patrick Powell
Salary Cap Expert 

For a player with nine NHL games under his belt, Brayden Schenn carried a gargantuan cap hit of $3.11 million heading into this season. That has apparently changed. Despite the fact that his cap hit still appears as $3.11 million on capgeek.com and nhlnumbers.com, multiple sources believe that one of the most significant bonuses in Schenn’s contracts calls for a payout of $1.41 million if he were to remain on an NHL roster for the entire season. Since the Flyers demoted him to the AHL Phantoms prior to the start of the regular season, the Flyers have effectively reduced Schenn’s cap hit to $1.7 million for the entire season.

Two factors lead me and others within hockey’s media to believe that the Flyers will recall Schenn soon:

  1. The Flyers have left a roster spot open for him.
  2. Schenn has dazzled with seven points in three games for the Phantoms, including a hat trick in his second game.

The Flyers are currently carrying 22 players on their active roster, including Jody Shelley, who has just finished serving his four game suspension. Blair Betts has joined Ian Laperriere on the long time injured reserve list, giving the Flyers about $1.8 million in effective cap space above the salary cap ($64.3 million). Hypothetically speaking, if the Flyers were to recall Schenn on Monday, his prorated cap hit for the regular season would be approximately $1.6 million. Assuming there are no corresponding roster moves, the Flyers’ project full season cap liability would be $63.48 million.

Schenn’s demotion did not occur purely for financial purposes. Prior to injuring his shoulder in pre-season, Schenn seemed to lack confidence in his offensive game. He shined in his Flyers’ debut as he recorded a hat trick in the annual rookie game against the Washington Capitals’ rookies, but his offensive production waned from that juncture. An equally important reason that the Flyers sent Schenn to the AHL is to allow him the opportunity to play on a top line and to regain his offensive confidence. Consider that mission successful.

As aforementioned, the addition of Schenn would put 23 players on the Flyers’ active roster, and they would be in compliance with the salary cap. Therefore, the only consideration is where to put Schenn in the lineup. Even though he did demonstrate a strong defensive presence in pre-season, the Flyers want to play Schenn in the top 9. As currently constructed, the top-9 is:

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr
Jakub Voracek-Danny Briere-Wayne Simmonds
Scott Hartnell-Sean Couturier-Matt Read

So, who leaves the top-9?

Based on play so far, an argument could be made that Hartnell has not played up to his $4.2 million cap hit. Hartnell does hold a full no trade clause and has reportedly refused to waive it in the past. The Flyers may have to do due diligence by at least exploring a trade to rid themselves of this hefty contract, especially since van Riemsdyk and Simmonds both fulfill the need for a power forward role. If the Flyers can deal Hartnell, Schenn could play wing on the third line with Couturier and Read, or he could center Briere, who has struggled somewhat in the early going.

Another option would be to move shorthanded specialist Read to the fourth line, move Hartnell to the second line in an effort to re-kindle chemistry with Briere and Voracek, then drop Simmonds to the third line with Couturier and Read.

At any rate, it would be risky and difficult to keep Schenn in the minors much longer.

Cross checks from behind, slashes, and face washes are always welcome on Twitter @Gordsie.

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