It seems the biggest trade of NHL Draft weekend was saved for after the final selection. Late Saturday afternoon, the Leafs and Flyers pulled the trigger on a deal exchanging defenseman Luke Schenn for Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk.
After speculation reached an all-time high that this trade would be made around last season's trade deadline, the swap of former top-five draft picks marks the second in two days in which family ties are re-kindled, when Eric and Jordan Staal were joined in Carolina. Luke and Brayden have always thought about the prospect of playing together, but for quite sometime it seemed as if it wouldn't happen.
Luke was drafted fifth overall by Brian Burke in 2008 and expectations were through the roof. But beyond stretches where Luke has been good, his career hasn't been terribly impressive thus far. At least it's the first time Brian Burke has gushed over a first-round draft pick, right? Oh hey, Nazem Kadri.
Schenn had 75 points in four seasons with the Leafs.
Speaking of underachieving draft picks, James van Riemsdyk hasn't exactly lived up to his billing either. The now-former Flyer was taken 2nd overall in 2007, after Patrick Kane was selected by Chicago, and has accumulated 99 points in roughly two and a half seasons with the Flyers. JVR's size, strength on the puck, and blistering shot were the types of things that made Paul Holmgren believe they had something really special. In fact, van Riemsdyk's expected leap forward was a big part of the reason Holmgren felt comfortable trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter last summer.
Well, at least they still have Claude Giroux.
This trade has numerous implications for both teams. Toronto gets an explosive, yet still mostly unproven, forward in van Riemsdyk who has shown instances of brilliance. He was a force in the 2011 playoffs, netting 7 goals in 11 games as the Flyers lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. A change in scenery might be just the thing that he needs and playing alongside Phil Kessel and a rejuvenated Joffrey Lupul might be just the place.
Van Riemsdyk has the potential to become a superstar. And that is exactly what Burke is going to preach, and quite honestly, it may not be too far off.
Now, the Flyers didn't get such a bad deal here, either. Make no bones about it, Luke Schenn hasn't been the dominant force he has been touted to be. But he is another guy who can certainly step up his role into an All-Star defenseman. Undoubtedly, the Flyers' brass are looking at this 22-year old imploring him to become the very thing they just lost: Chris Pronger.
The Flyers' interest in a player like Schenn speaks volumes about their confidence in Pronger's potential return after a debilitating concussion forced him to miss the majority of the 2011-12 campaign. This threw the Flyers into talks with Ryan Suter, specifically, earlier this offseason despite reports that Suter was less than thrilled with the idea of playing in Philadelphia. This trade might make any of those rumors obsolete. The Flyers may have just made the move for their man on the blue line.
Despite the "less than explosive" starts to both of these young players' careers, this trade has the makings of something that can totally revitalize the way we look at them.
Two young players, traded one-for-one.
A dying breed of trade in the NHL and something that is quite refreshing.
I have heard a lot of people saying Toronto won in this deal, but a lot of people get tied up in the idea that JVR could become a big time goal-getter if he blossoms and fail to realize that a superstar defenseman can be just as valuable if Schenn develops into the player the Flyers are hoping for. Toronto filled their need for offense on the wing, Philadelphia filled their need for a big and young body on the blue line. Neither player is a sure thing (as we have seen). The team that will win this trade is the team that is able to tap into the potential of these young men.