Looking at Kings' decision to send Brayden Schenn to the minor leagues
Greetings from San Jose, where there seems to be a pretty good buzz about the playoff opener between the Sharks and Kings at HP Pavilion. The morning skates for both teams drew decent media crowds, including cameras and reporters from Canada’s TSN TV network, which is televising the series.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi didn’t respond to my requests to explain why he assigned prized prospect Brayden Schenn to Manchester of the American Hockey League instead of bringing Schenn here to join the big club, but Lombardi’s comments to me in a phone conversation two days ago shed some light on the club's reasoning.
Lombardi said Tuesday, before Schenn’s junior team was eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs, that he was hesitant to throw Schenn into the pressure cooker of the playoffs and put the young center in the position of “replacing” injured center Anze Kopitar.
“The other thing, too, is that he can help us in terms of making plays. But the perception that he’s somehow going to fill in for Kopitar is way off,” Lombardi said Tuesday. “He could improve the team in an area like [Andrei] Loktionov, in terms of playmaking and puck possession. But the perception that he’s going to go in there and suddenly Kopitar’s hole is going to be filled, that’s totally unrealistic.
“The other thing in the back of my mind is, is this really the stage to put the kid on?”
Other factors: Coach Terry Murray wasn't happy with Schenn's defensive play during Schenn's time with the Kings. And Schenn has played eight games and if he were to play 10 that would eat up the first year of his three-year entry-level contract and put him closer to the second contract that seems to be the huge one for most young players. The Kings apparently feel that using up a full season just to get him in a couple of playoff games isn’t worth it.
Murray said he was not involved in the decision. “All I know is that he has been assigned to Manchester. That means he’s available to us," Murray said. "Go down there and hopefully he gets into some games playing at that level and just continues with his career and if there’s a need we can have him available at any time.”
More coming soon, including right wing Justin Williams returning to the lineup alongside Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth, and Oscar Moller coming out of the lineup.
-- Helene Elliott in San Jose
Photo: Brayden Schenn. Credit: Christine Cotter / Associated Press.