Digging deep on Schenn and Kreider to help you determine which player has better short- and long-term value

 

Hopefully all DobberHockey loyalists make time to read the monthly Top 100 Rotisserie Players list. I’ll often consult it when picking match-ups for this column, including this week, when two 25 year olds ranked right next to each other – Brayden Schenn (#30) and Chris Kreider (#31) – do battle. Which is best for your fantasy team now and down the road? And can either become a reliable 60+ point scorer? Cage Match is here to give you the all-important answers!

 

Career Path and Contract Status

Schenn was drafted 5th overall in 2009 by LA, then in 2009-10 posted 99 points in the WHL and even made a one game Kings cameo. Most poolies felt he was a shoo-in for the Kings line-up for 2010-11; yet he only played eight games for them over the next two seasons, then was dished to Philadelphia (with Wayne Simmonds) to land Mike Richards, in what’s become one of the more lopsided NHL trades in recent memory.

It took until 2013-14 for Schenn to land in the NHL for good, before which he was a success in the AHL (52 points in 47 games) but disappointed with the Flyers (44 points in 101 games). After posting 41 points in 2013-14 and 46 in 2014-15, there were whispers that perhaps Schenn would never break out. But those were silenced – at least temporarily – after last season’s 59 point output, especially with 44 of those points coming in his final 46 games.

Grabbed by the Rangers 14 spots after Schenn, Kreider attended Boston College, where his scoring pace rose each year, culminating in 45 points in 44 games in 2011-12. Like Schenn, Kreider became an NHL fixture in 2013-14. Following 83 points in 146 games (46.6 point scoring pace), and high expectations after finishing 2014-15 with 31 points in his final 44 contests, Kreider dropped slightly to a 44 point scoring pace for 2015-16, leaving poolies wondering if he was capable of breaking though.

Both players will be UFAs in 2020. Until then, Schenn counts $5.125M against the cap each year, while Kreider’s annual cap hit is roughly 10% less ($4.625M per season).

 

Ice Time

SH Ice Time isn’t charted because neither player had over 0:09 per game in any season.

Season

Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

2016-17

17:48 (B.S.) – 5th

16:36 (C.K.) – 4th

3:56 (B.S.) – 2nd

2:22 (C.K.) – 5th

2015-16

16:53 (B.S.) – 5th

15:57 (C.K.) – 6th

3:31 (B.S.) – 3rd (tied)

2:23 (C.K.) – 3rd

2014-15

17:04 (B.S.) – 5th

15:42 (C.K.) – 6th

2:59 (B.S.) – 4th

1:52 (C.K.) – 6th (tied)

2013-14

15:44 (B.S.) – 7th

15:43 (C.K.) – 8th

2:11 (B.S.) – 6th

2:10 (C.K.) – 7th

 

After nearly identical Ice Times in 2013-14, Schenn has received roughly a minute more than Kreider in each subsequent season, with it being all PP Time. Even still, 2016-17 marks the first time Kreider is receiving both more Total and PP Ice Time than Rick Nash. And thus far Kreider has responded with higher production, which, from a “chicken and egg” standpoint, bodes well for the Rangers sticking with this approach and Kreider (plus poolies owning him) benefitting from the results.

 

Also, even as their Ice Times diverged, both have had similar Total Ice Time rankings among forwards on their respective teams. This reinforces it’s better in fantasy to own a star player on a team – like the Flyers – which leans heavily on its top six, rather than on a team – like the Rangers – which spreads Ice Time more evenly among forwards. Need further proof? Since 2010-11, only one Ranger player (Marian Gaborik) posted 70+ points in a season, doing so twice, with the last time being in 2011-12, whereas the Flyers had two players (Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek) post 70+ points in a season, and they combined to do so five times, including at least once in every full season except for 2015-16.

 

With this being the case, however, the risk in owning Schenn in fantasy is if he’s somehow displaced from the top six for an extended period of time. Ironically, this is where Schenn’s C/LW eligibility, which is normally seen as a benefit in fantasy due to roster flexibility and FOW from a wing, could hurt poolies more than it helps them. Case in point – recently Schenn has centered Philly’s second or third line, rather than playing LW alongside Giroux as he did when he exploded last season. While of course Kreider is at risk of being moved from line to line too, the Rangers are a deeper team so the drop in talent (not to mention in Ice Time, as noted above) would be less pronounced as compared to what could befall Schenn. Moreover, although Schenn remains one of the four forwards deployed on the Flyer PP1, if the team opted to go with two d-men instead of just one, it’s possible Schenn would be the odd man out.

 

Overall though, both are long shots for 65+ points until/unless they get their Total Ice Time above the 18:00 per game threshold. Why? Because among the 77 instances of forwards posting 65+ points in any of the past three seasons, only six corresponded with a player who received less than 18:00 in Total Ice Time for that same season (just 13 did it with less than 18:30 per game). Not only is that data a concern for the future – it also calls into question Schenn’s nearly point per game stretch from last season since in only 17 of those games did he receive more than 18:00 in total Ice Time.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2016-17

0.62 (B.S.)

0.65 (C.K.)

2.50 (B.S.)

2.20 (C.K.)

0.58 (B.S.)

0.70 (C.K.)

2.12 (B.S.)

2.60 (C.K.)

0.41 (B.S.)

0.20 (C.K.)

2015-16

0.41 (B.S.)

0.73 (C.K.)

2.33 (B.S.)

2.24 (C.K.)

0.37 (B.S.)

0.41 (C.K.)

2.22 (B.S.)

2.00 (C.K.)

0.27 (B.S.)

0.10 (C.K.)

2014-15

0.41 (B.S.)

1.08 (C.K.)

2.41 (B.S.)

2.02 (C.K.)

0.46 (B.S.)

0.21 (C.K.)

1.90 (B.S.)

2.26 (C.K.)

0.23 (B.S.)

0.10 (C.K.)

2013-14

0.66 (B.S.)

1.09 (C.K.)

2.44 (B.S.)

2.21 (C.K.)

0.45 (B.S.)

0.27 (C.K.)

2.17 (B.S.)

2.06 (C.K.)

0.11 (B.S.)

0.18 (C.K.)

 

It’s encouraging that Kreider’s early success for 2016-17 has corresponded not only with leapfrogging Rick Nash on the depth chart, but also improved SOG and PP point rates, as that helps the story check out. Unfortunately, amid his breakout his PIM rate is on pace to decrease for the third straight season. Yet poolies who own Kreider likely would accept that as a tradeoff for sustained 60+ point production, especially since it’s not like his PIM have fallen entirely off a cliff.

 

Meanwhile, Schenn’s PIM have rebounded to 2013-14 levels, and both his Hits and Blocks rates are on track to be career highs. His 2016-17 PPPt rate is unsustainably elevated; also, not only does his SOG rate represent the second lowest of these four seasons, but if we dig deeper we see that during his 44 points in 46 games finish to 2015-16, he had only 93 total shots, compared to 85 shots in the 34 prior games during which he had only 15 points.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting % (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2016-17

7.8% (B.S.)

11.5% (C.K.)

7.38% (B.S.)

10.07% (C.K.)

45.4% (B.S.)

73.3% (C.K.)

56.3% (B.S.)

100% (C.K.)

60.9% (B.S.)

52.7% (C.K.)

2015-16

14.6% (B.S.)

13.3% (C.K.)

8.02% (B.S.)

10.36% (C.K.)

76.7% (B.S.)

54.7% (C.K.)

55.3% (B.S.)

38.1% (C.K.)

52.3% (B.S.)

50.7% (C.K.)

2014-15

11.5% (B.S.)

11.5% (C.K.)

6.45% (B.S.)

9.27% (C.K.)

78.1% (B.S.)

69.2% (C.K.)

41.5% (B.S.)

58.2% (C.K.)

56.4% (B.S.)

54.7% (C.K.)

2013-14

11.2% (B.S.)

12.5% (C.K.)

8.37% (B.S.)

7.95% (C.K.)

68.3% (B.S.)

57.1% (C.K.)

64.3% (B.S.)

78.6% (C.K.)

55.2% (B.S.)

56.6% (C.K.)

 

It appears Kreider has benefitted only slightly from good luck this season. His personal shooting % and OZ% are in line with past campaigns; and although his team shooting % is higher than the leaguewide average of 9.00% it’s been that way since 2014-15, suggesting he makes good things happen when on the ice. Also, although of course Kreider’s 5×4 IPP isn’t going to stay 100%, he only has four PPPts; thus, even if it was only 50% that would mean just two fewer points. Also, in terms of his 5×5 IPP, it was right below the 70% mark in 2014-15, and it rising above 70% this season can be logically linked to receiving more of the kind of favorable deployment that was previous being bestowed upon Rick Nash.

 

For Schenn, on one hand, his personal shooting % was very high last season, and even 20.4% during his 44 point in 46 games run. But at the same time his team shooting % was low; so although he clearly lucked into more goals than he should’ve, there’s an argument to be made that his point total wasn’t bolstered. Then again, Schenn’s team shooting % was far enough below the league average of 9.00% in each of the past three seasons, and again for 2016-17 so far, that one has to wonder how he can be so unlucky for so long, unless maybe he’s a drag on production while on the ice? And considering Flyers top six winger Wayne Simmonds’ 5×5 team shooting % has been well above Schenn’s in each season since 2013-14, as has Jakub Voracek’s in two of those seasons, it might be a legitimate concern. Perhaps this also explains why the Flyers have taken to moving Schenn back to center of late?

 

Yet if we look at 5×5 IPP, Schenn has consistently done well, which means his 45.4% rate for 2016-17 should improve. In fact, had it been his normal 75%, he’d be looking at four more points thus far, putting him at a scoring pace better than Kreider’s. Yet if/when his 5×5 IPP gets back to normal, it might be a wash with PPPts he’ll lose along the way. Also, his OZ% is considerably higher this season, but might drop if he’s off the top line for an extended period.

 

Who Wins?

 

I’m narrowly going with Kreider in one year leagues and keepers. He’s never truly had a chance to shine in a top role until now; yet lo and behold, he’s doing well and it looks to be sustainable for the most part, what with both him and the team succeeding in response to his larger role.

 

On the other hand, Schenn sits below a 55-point pace for 2016-17 so far and, of arguably more concern for long term production, has been moved off his plum spot as LW on Claude Giroux’s line – the same spot he occupied when he put up his 44 points in 46 games last season. And after our digging, we saw those 44 points came despite only two SOG per game and barely more than one of every three of those games seeing him receive over 18:00 in Ice Time. Simply put, there are too many red flags for me to go with Schenn over Kreider, especially since Schenn will likely cost more, what with his second half of 2015-16 still fresh enough on poolies’ minds.

 

That having been said, I still think of the two Schenn probably has the only shot (albeit a remote one) to be a 70+ point player, due to the nature of his game and raw talent. Don’t get me wrong – based on this data I’d say it’s unlikely Schenn ever puts up 70+ points in a season; however, if you’re rebuilding and want hope for a bigger potential long term “home run” type reward, you might grab Schenn rather than Kreider if the cost is close enough, which should be the case by the end of this season if Schenn indeed disappoints poolies who thought his 44 points in 46 games from last season was the new normal.