By Michael McCarthy

Brayden Schenn established himself as a big part of the Flyers last season, and he was rewarded for his first 20-goal NHL season with a two-year contract that reportedly will pay him $2.5 million this season and next season.

For that money, however, the Flyers are hoping for more than 20 goals.

“He’s got a real gift at putting the puck in the net,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. “He scored 20 goals, which at this stage of the game that’s a lot of goals. But we still think there’s more there and there’s more growth. I think the biggest thing is the consistency part.”

Schenn, 22, set career-highs in goals, assists (21) and points (41) while playing his first full 82-game season in the NHL. However, twice he went more than six straight games without a point; five times he went six or more games without a goal, and in one 20-game span between Nov. 15 and Dec. 28 he had one goal.

Hextall believes consistency will come as Schenn naturally matures into a full-time NHL player.

“It’s part of the maturation process, but it’s also our responsibility, and also Craig’s [coach Craig Berube] responsibility, to push Brayden and everybody else to be consistent,” Hextall said. “Play the game the right way every night. And those nights when you’re not feeling well, you still have to find a way to contribute to the success of the team.”

If Schenn can discover that consistency, there’s a great deal of opportunity for him. He averaged 15:44 of ice time per game, playing mostly on the second line. He alternated between left wing and center, and seemed the better fit in the middle.

However, with the departure of top-line left wing Scott Hartnall, Schenn could be in the running to move up to the first line. He played there a bit last season and could be a candidate to play alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on a more permanent basis this season.

“There’s a few candidates,” Hextall said. “It’s going to be up for grabs. Craig makes the decisions there. That spot, there’s nobody that’s played enough there to say I’m the guy. There’s a spot open there and I’m sure a lot of guys will be hungry for it.”

Hextall is happy with what he’s seen so far, but is confident there’s more to come.

“I think he’s become more consistent,” Hextall said. “He’s become a little bit more responsible of a player. But there’s still another level there as far as offensive production, but also in terms of consistency and making the right plays with the puck more times than not. There’s still a lot of upside in Brayden.”

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