There are a lot of unhappy Flyers fans out there about this deal. James van Riemsdyk traded straight up for Luke Schenn seems like theft to most of them. I'm here to say that the trade makes sense.
Before the 2011-12 trade deadline, it had become quite apparent that the Flyers needed a physical presence on the blue line. Holmgren acquired Niklas Grossmann which turned out to pay more than its fair share of dividends.
Pavel Kubina? ..........not so much. But we were looking for a right-handed defenseman, so it was a step in the right direction.
Many moons ago, my cowriter, Tim March, had posted an article arguing how it'd behoove Philadelphia and Toronto to exchange both JVR and Luke Schenn. Since then, his reasoning hasn't changed. And just like that, on Saturday, June 23, Paul Holmgren and Brian Burke agreed on the One-for-One trade.
"It's obviously a little bit weird to not be a part of the Leafs' organization anymore, but it's exciting to be part of a great franchise like Philadelphia," Luke said. "It's weird how everything works out. It should be awesome playing in Philadelphia and having a chance to win there."
A little over a week ago, I had gone into extensive detail as to why the Flyers needed a right-handed blue liner. I mentioned how difficult it could be for a lefty to guard the right side of his own zone, backing it up with actual experiences told by a couple of players. I suggested how moving Matt Carle to his strong side while pairing him with a physical, right-handed linemate could cut Matt's turnovers in half while simultaneously lifting some of the physical onus off his shoulders. This could grant Carle his opportunity to focus on what he's best at; gaining possession of the puck and orchestrating the defensive zone breakout (all of this, of course, assuming Philadelphia re-signs Matt Carle).
The New Jersey Devils mastered the cycling and forechecking game against us in the SemiFinals due in large part to NJ winning battles along the boards, and the Flyers missing a right-handed stick on the defensive pairings.
That's not my observation. Zach Parise told us that himself.
Luke thrives on the ice by playing a brutally physical game, and his carnality is what wins him battles in the defensive zone. Combining him with Matt Carle seems like the right way to go, because --in a perfect world-- you have just the right blend of defense on the ice at one time to swoop in, eliminate the offensive, and move the puck up ice.
Schenn's right-handed stick and aggressive play would no doubt be valued against the forecheck. And when I say he's aggressive, I mean exactly that.
Since his 2009-10 sophomore season in the NHL, L. Schenn has put up 694-hits and 399-blocked shots in 240-games. He's a banger, to say the least. And a skater who plays this style of hockey would definitely put wear and tear on his body, right? Think again.
Schenn is incredibly durable. Since his rookie season, Luke's missed only 18-games. So you have more than enough reason to believe he'll last you the entire schedule.
Here's the deal with the situation; Just like James van Riemsdyk, the problem with Luke is that he hasn't become what the Toronto Maple Leafs hoped he'd be by now.
A lot of the same can be said between Philadelphia and JVR.
Both players have shown flashes of dominance at their respective positions. But it's the inconsistency that's played a major factor in the reason for the trade. The positive out of this is that a change in scenery could be exactly what each of these players need to break through their ceilings. Sometimes....that's all it takes.
At 6'2", 230-pounds, Luke Schenn is nothing but a skating wrecking ball. He can shatter bones and force his victim to shit their pants before their backside even meets the ice. But it's his ferocious enthusiasm that leads him to skate out of position at times. That seems to be his largest issue, whereas JVR has been said to be soft for his size, and is injury prone.
Never in his young career has Luke been mistaken to be a #1 defenseman. At least not yet. He's been a #4 - 6 d-man, paired up on the second or third defensive line, whereas (a healthy) JVR is easily a top two line forward. This may be one dissertation the Flyers skeptics thunder down from their mountain tops. But there's a few counterarguments to that.
Even with van Riemsdyk on the IR for virtually half the regular season, the Flyers still managed to put on a goal-scoring show that lit more lamps than the Red Light District. So not only is the existing roster (sans JVR) capable of putting the puck in net, but something tells me Holmgren's not finished piecing his front lines together.
There's speculation that Philadelphia is interested in acquiring (RW) Bobby Ryan from Anaheim who's proven himself to be an absolute force. The 25yr old power forward has turned into quite the pure-goal scorer, and has done so while tallying an impressive amount of hits since the statistic's berth.
Also, van Riemsdyk's $4.25mm AAV begins this 2012-13 season. Luke Schenn's cap hit is $650K less, and he's locked up till 2015-16. Though it's not a significantly less amount of money we're saving on Schenn's contract, this could all just be a small chess move to free up more cap space for a legitimate chance to land UFA left-wing Zach Parise or a #1 defenseman like Shea Weber.
After Saturday's trade, the Flyers officially have 19-contracts locked up and roughly $11.5-Million in cap space (Cap set at $70.3-Million, per CapGeek.com).
If you want to develop a final opinion by strictly comparing JVR and Schenn's productivity side-by-side, then you're going to find arguments for Toronto winning the trade. But you must consider JVR's susceptibility to injury, and the imminent moves peripherally laid out by Holmgren that I'm sure will come into affect between today and July 2.
You can never count Paul Holmgren out.
Check out The Pack on Facebook!
You can follow Michael DeNicola on Twitter: @MikeyD_OandBP
Send us your feedback to OrangeAndBlackPack@Gmail.com