In a trade that we were told had no chance of happening just hours ago, the Philadelphia Flyers have sent James Van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn.

The trade isn’t a strict win-lose for either team, and much like the Jordan Staal to Carolina trade, the move both serves a need for the teams and offers additional flexibility.

The Flyers face many tough decisions on their blueline as they look for stability going forward. They were hit hard by injuries in 2011-12 and while they appear ready to let go of Matt Carle and deadline acquisition gone wrong, Pavel Kubina, they will need to figure out what to do with Kimmo Timonen in one year’s time.

There’s also the small matter of the infinite timetable facing Chris Pronger and his concussion recovery.

There are certainly plenty of jokes to be made regarding Schenn’s inability to stabilize any defense (har har har) but the move is a win for Philadelphia nonetheless. They have roughly $11 million in cap space heading into the offseason — more than they had after dispatching the slightly more expensive JVR — and will be counting on one or both of Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen to make the jump, given that they are both now in their early-20s and among the top prospects in Philly’s system.

A change of scenery will be good for Schenn who had become equal parts whipping boy and blueline hope. While Philadelphia won’t be any less of a pressure cooker, he’ll have veteran teammates who are more adept at easing the heat off of him when he makes things difficult on himself, and the presence of his brother ought to be a nice perk. Given the way last season wrapped up in Toronto he should be much, much happier and that alone should yield better on-ice results.

Moving JVR also frees up the Flyers to pursue Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks who expressed his desire to play in Philadelphia and get out of Anaheim. While the Flyers may have just dealt their main bargaining chip, they do possess other assets of value with NHL experience, such as Matt Read, and could conceivably pull off a trade depending on how desperate the Ducks are to move Ryan.

By acquiring JVR, the Leafs accomplish a couple of useful goals in the short and long term.

By moving Schenn the Leafs allow Korbinian Holzer, a big, defensive minded prospect, to see take a shot at holding down a role in the show. He’s not a flashy, big name prospect, but he was consistently a rock for the Calder Cup finalist Toronto Marlies and had several good showings on the world stage as a member of Team Germany. The Leafs also free up a roster spot to potentially offer to blue chip free agent prospect, Justin Schultz. Schultz was a pick of Burke in Anaheim and is considered one of the top prospects in all of hockey. When he hits the open market it makes sense for Burke and the Leafs to make a big charge after him as the overall talent level of the team is lacking.

The final part of this puzzle is two-fold for Burke’s long term plans in Toronto.

First and foremost, he adds the power forward he has coveted for so long. JVR is one of the top power forward prospects in hockey, even after his injury struggles, and projects to be a solid goal scorer for many years down the road. Many NHL defensemen, including Flyers captain Chris Pronger, believe that the big New Jersey native can rank among the NHL’s best in scoring. He is currently a top six calibre forward.

The second, and perhaps more talked about piece, gives the Leafs more flexibility to pursue Roberto Luongo. JVR pushes every Leafs winger — except for Phil Kessel, of course — down one rung on the depth chart and leaves them more open to trades. Chief among these players is Nazem Kadri, who is believed to be highly thought of by Vancouver GM Mike Gillis. As a team that was victimized for its lack of secondary scoring in the 2011-12 playoffs, Kadri would be a piece that serves as a keystone piece in a trade and would provide offensive value that the Canucks need.

Obviously it would take more than that to pry a goaltender of Luongo’s caliber from Vancouver, but it would be a start for Toronto.

Now, this isn’t to suggest that these things will happen and that these are the direct factors which prompted the deal. They’re simply very convenient byproducts. To proclaim a winner of this deal would simply be too simple of an assessment. It’s a win-win trade that serves different purposes for squads in different stages of contention. In a strict talent/production comparison, van Riemsdyk is the better player in that he is more impactful from an offensive standpoint than Schenn is from a defensive one. Again, how that translates in their new homes remains to be seen.

We’ll find out who really won the deal when it all plays out on the ice.

Comments (14)

  1. I really hope someone else steps up with an offer for Luongo. I don’t want to see anyone on the Leafs current roster traded to the Canucks besides Kessel. Why MG thinks highly of Kadri is a mystery to me considering he couldn’t even stick with the Leafs and there terrible roster, how would he be helpful at all if everyone on the Canucks 4th line is better than him.

    • With the 10 year contract that will take him into his 40′s, Luongo holds a negative value. There is no way the Leaf’s will trade anything of value (Kadri, Lupul, ect) to acquire him. The trade will invariably require Vancouver to take on a big contract ie. Komi, to balance out Lu’s albatross of a deal.

    • I always find it interesting when people criticise players under the age of 24 for not cracking a lineup. Young players usually need time to get used to the pro levels, they also need skilled and/or experienced veterans around them. Look at how useful Hal Gill was beside PK Subban, for example.

      Kadri is soon turning 22. He has played just 2 seasons of pro hockey. He’s done well in the AHL, but it hasn’t translated to the NHL yet. So what? Would you prefer to rush him into the NHL when he’s not ready, or give him time to develop? Luke Schenn was rushed into the NHL, in a pressure cooker situation, and hasn’t improved very much since his rookie year, do you want the same for Kadri?

      I’m a Habs fan, so I’m always thrilled when the Leafs screw up (here’s hoping Rielly has a very successful career – just not in the NHL). But really it’s their own fault, and the fans, with Schenn and now Kadri. I don’t understand teams (and fans) calls to rush prospects. Don’t ever throw them in until they’re ready.

      For example, PK Subban’s first pro-year included 77 AHL games, with the Habs reluctantly bringing him in when injuries forced them to. He was ready anyway, but they made sure to bring him along slowly, which has helped his development. On the other hand, they rushed Price and Pacioretty, both of whom seem to have recovered, but took a step back before that recovery (Price taking a backup role, Pacioretty starting the year in the AHL).

    • Kadri is very skilled. He dances over veteran goalies in a shootout, one on one.
      Imo, he just needs to develop physically so he can stand his ground in a crowd, and grow up mentally – drop some youthful arrogance. He’ll be a real good player in a year or two at the most if he gets things sorted out.

      I wouldn’t be sad to see him go cause i expected him to do better in his transition, but i also think he will do well when he does. He’s got some real talent and carries decent trade weight imo.

  2. Kadri, Reimer and a group of pick/prospects?

  3. No mention of big Schenn joining his little brother in Philly??

  4. Naw, Toronto’s just gonna flip JVR to Columbus as part of a Nash package.

  5. A player has one bad year and the Leafs ship ‘em off no matter what the price. Nothing new here – we train ‘em, send them off, and pay an arm and a leg for the best available forwards. Personally, I also don’t like the fact that the Leafs have very few Canadians on their team. There seems to be a theme in the last few years that Brian Burke hasn’t caught onto…the majority of the Stanley Cup Champion teams have been Canadian players and the last World Cup Champions were also Canadian.

    As for Luongo, I really hope Brian Burke doesn’t make the mistake in acquiring him. It would be like trying to get Marty Brodeur – great goalie but past his prime

  6. I think its a good deal, gives both teams breathing space for free agency. A change of scenery is always a plus for struggling players. Burke is a smart or hard-headed gm, both will make so he doesnt trade prospects and picks for luongo. Looking away from big name goalies, maybe Toronto could try and go for Blues prospect Jake Allen, who was really good in juniors and his doing well in Peoria, cheaper then Luongo and still has potential to grow, Bernier is a good choice to from LA, he’s skilled but showed mix results in few starts he had, he still has potential so i would look for those two instead of Luongo.

  7. Luongo is not going to command a top prospect like Kadri and something else. A 2nd rounder and 1-2 mid level prospects will be more than enough.

  8. I like the JVR trade. Schenn wasn’t happy from the day they picked him. Leafs were the laughing stock. But he was a class act through it all. Good luck to him.

    Luongo is a bad choice imo. He’s weak minded. The slightest shove and he drops his focus from the puck to the ref, looking for a call. Next thing you know, the puck’s in the back of the net. He’s an egomaniac. He’s all about that winning record and yet dreads every second of the game. Puleeeeze don’t make the mistake of adding this guy to the Leafs roster, especially for 10 years! Or you have to change your name from “make-me-laughs”, to “makes-me-puke”. Don’t give anything away other than maybe Reimer who seems to have taken on a new identity once he got paid. Taking that long term cap hit off their hands is trade enough imo. Good on Burke to hold off.

  9. I like to look at the body of work as a whole rather than at each trade within a bubble. Having said that, given Holmgren’s recent trade history, Leafs fans can expext to win a cup in 2014.

  10. I’d just like to add, regarding trades, that (as we all know) Komeseric is way over-paid. Grabo, Lombardi and Pheneuf are all over paid, Liles is too small for D. Riemer and MacArthur both dropped their intensity once they got their contracts. Trade em all if you get the chance.

    Keep Lupul if you can. At $4.5, that’s a player i wouldn’t want to see go, even if it meant landing Nash. Decent quality, great attitude, and really good bang for buck. Need more like him.

    I saw JVK play for the first time in these playoffs. He looked great. Serious threat. Can see him with Carter (another talented prospect). Can’t wait to see more.

  11. Carter Ashton that is… Oh and add Conolly to that list of tradables.

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