Schenn, 22, who has played mostly left wing this season, entered Friday as the Flyers top scorer with 12 points in 18 games, and he was second on the team with six goals - just two fewer goals than he managed in 47 games during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign.
The progression Schenn has shown isn't surprising. This is his third full season, a time when many players start to get a better feel for the game and emerge. It happened with Richards (28 goals and 75 points in his third year, compared to 21 goals and 66 points in his first two years combined). It happened with Claude Giroux in his third season (25 goals and 76 points after collecting 16 goals and 47 points in the previous season), and it has happened to countless others.
To Flyers coach Craig Berube, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Schenn has a chance to be a prototypical power forward. He's not as big or fast as former Flyer James van Riemsdyk, but he plays with much more physicality.
Both styles work.
"It's skating and the physical play . . . and being a power forward. That's what I want him to become," Berube said. "To me, that is what he is. He's doing it right now, but he's got to keep doing it, got to stay on it. His feet have to move, he's got to be physical."
In Wednesday's 2-1 win in Pittsburgh, Schenn scored both goals, won lots of battles out front, and also led both teams with six hits.
"I'm getting more physical and maybe a little more involved, and when I do that, it gets me in the game more," Schenn said. "And I'm finding a little chemistry with my linemates" - Vinny Lecavalier and Simmonds.
Berube is emphasizing to his players that there is a difference between hits and smart hits, doing it when the puck arrives at an opponent and causes a turnover.
Schenn has been doing that. In his first 18 games, he had 47 hits, 34 more than Richards.
"Being physical is not running around and hitting guys when the puck's not there," Berube said. "Being physical is getting there when the puck's there, knocking the guy off the puck and getting the puck. That's being physical for me."
Lecavalier, the veteran center who is in his first year as a Flyer, said Schenn has improved his game from when he faced him last season while a member of Tampa Bay.
"He's a strong boy; he can skate, he can score," said Lecavalier, who has been among the NHL's most productive free-agent signings from the offseason. "He's gotten confidence out there and is making some really smart plays, and he plays well defensively. He's gotten better and better as the year has gone along."
Schenn, a natural center who has had to adjust to playing on the wing, said it's a matter of feeling more comfortable with his game.
"Confidence is everything," he said. "When you're confident, you're seeing different plays, making different plays."
And making the Richards trade more understandable with each game.
Here are the top 10 picks in the 2009 draft and what they have done in the NHL, according to hockeydb.com, entering Friday's games.
Pk Player Pos GP G A PIM
1 John Tavares C 311 120 152 143
2 Victor Hedman D 277 19 79 260
3 Matt Duchene C 284 94 119 76
4 Evander Kane C 279 86 84 288
5 Brayden Schenn C 128 26 32 82
6 Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 198 21 62 92
7 Nazem Kadri C 117 31 46 67
8 Scott Glennie C 1 0 0 2
9 Jared Cowen D 108 8 13 84
10 Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson LW 167 26 32 34