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Fantasy spin: Brayden Schenn can be No. 1 center for Blues after trade

Category coverage asset could play with Vladimir Tarasenko, boost St. Louis power play

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

The St. Louis Blues acquired forward Brayden Schenn on Friday and finally have a proven No. 1 center to play alongside elite right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.

Schenn, 25, who was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers for Jori Lehtera and NHL Draft picks, finished 83rd overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings based on standard category production this season, and had a career-high 59 points in 2015-16. He was 94th in NHL.com's fantasy rankings for next season prior to the trade.

The Blues, who advanced to the Western Conference Final two seasons ago and made it to the second round this season, have lacked a true No. 1 center in recent years. David Backes did not often play alongside Tarasenko at even strength during their time together with the Blues, and Paul Stastny's health issues put St. Louis in a tough spot this season. Lehtera had been Tarasenko's most-frequent linemate, but was barely fantasy relevant. Even Alexander Steen, primarily a wing at the NHL level, got a trial at center this season.

 

[RELATED: Flyers trade Schenn to Blues for Jori Lehtera, picks]

 

Schenn has been a top 100 fantasy player in each of the past two seasons, thanks largely to his consistent coverage of points, power-play points, shots on goal and either penalty minutes or hits, depending on the league type. He was one of eight players this season with at least 55 points, 25 PPP, 175 shots on goal and 30 PIMs. His 376 hits over the past two seasons combined rank 18th among forwards.

His 50 PPP in 159 games over the past two seasons rank tied for seventh in the NHL; that's the same total as top-notch fantasy forwards Evgeni Malkin (119 games), Joe Pavelski (163) and Alex Ovechkin (161) in the span.

Video: PHI@NYR: Schenn beats Lundqvist with long slap shot

That production came on a strong power-play unit with forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, so there may be a dip in man-advantage production for Schenn in his first season with St. Louis. The Blues are projected to feature Tarasenko, Schenn, Steen, Jaden Schwartz and either defenseman Alex Pietrangelo or Colton Parayko on their first unit after the departure of specialist Kevin Shattenkirk.

In a hits league, Schenn should be targeted in the 50-75 range. In a standard league, he remains a top 100 overall asset after the trade with the chance for improved even-strength production alongside Tarasenko. Even with a downgrade in power-play personnel, Schenn should see more than three minutes per game in those situations and has a good chance at scoring 20 PPP for the third straight season.

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