Schenn to sit again while Kings debate his future
Kings Coach Terry Murray said no decision has been made on the short-term future of rookie center Brayden Schenn, who is scheduled to be scratched from the lineup for the third straight game when the Kings face the Dallas Stars Thursday at Staples Center.
But it seems unlikely that Schenn will return to the lineup anytime soon.
He has played eight games, and the first year of his pro contract would kick in if he plays 10 games. If the Kings determine he’d be better off playing regularly somewhere else, their options are limited. Because he’s only 19 he can’t play in the American Hockey League and could only be returned to his junior team, Brandon of the Western Hockey League.
Murray said Wednesday that returning Schenn to the junior ranks might make sense, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Asked if Schenn might play Saturday or sometime after that, Murray was noncommittal.
“I can’t rule anything out on that one. He’s the only healthy forward that we have here right now so you go through the games and stuff happens, then he’s in,” Murray said after the Kings’ morning skate in El Segundo.
“Until we decided anything different he’s part of the team right now. We discussed things and talked [Wednesday] but we didn’t arrive at any firm decision. So that would be the scenario. There’s a possibility he could play. He could still get that one game in before we have to make a firm decision on it anyways, so we’ll wait and see how it plays out tonight.”
Schenn’s contract contains many bonuses he now can’t attain or would be unlikely to attain if he reaches that 10-game mark and stays with the Kings this season. So that would reduce his cap hit considerably below the $3.14 million listed as his cap hit on such websites as Capgeek.com and Nhlscap.com.
Left wing Kyle Clifford, also 19, has been slotted onto the fourth line Thursday with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. This will be Clifford’s 10th game, which will activate his contract. He has had an easier time winning a spot because his game is based more on muscle and energy than Schenn’s game, which is built around skill. Schenn is projected to be a second-line center someday but he’s not ready for that role yet with Anze Kopitar and a reinvigorated Jarret Stoll being productive and playing solid two-way games at center on the top two lines.
Incidentally, goaltender Jonathan Quick has been designated the starter against Dallas on Thursday night and might start Saturday too against the New York Islanders.
More later, including a chat with Brad Richardson about filling in for the injured Alexei Ponikarovsky on the third line with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Brayden Schenn. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images.