PITTSBURGH, Pa – If nothing else, Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren sure knows how to make the NHL Draft interesting. The Flyers traded James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn, whose brother Brayden currently plays for the Flyers after coming over to Philadelphia last summer in the Mike Richards deal that also brought the Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
The Flyers started things off before the draft by trading away backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 45th and 117th picks in this year’s draft, as well as 4th round pick next season that previously was held by the Phoenix Coyotes. The Flyers used the 45th pick to draft goaltender Anthony Stolarz and the 117th pick to select left winger Taylor Leier.
Ever since Brayden Schenn came to the Flyers there was speculation that would be an eventual trade with Toronto to join the two brothers. Since the future of Chris Pronger clouded and Kimmo Timonen already heading into the last season of his contract at age 37 and will turn 38 in March. Pronger is also 37 but turns 38 in October.
Luke Schenn (age 22) and Van Riemsdyk (age 23) have four years left to go on their contracts but Schenn’s contract has a slightly less cap hit. Schenn will now anchor a Flyers blueline that could become one of the younger defensive corps in the league should Pronger decide not to return. Only Timonen and Andreas Lilja is over age 30 who is signed for next season. Pavel Kubina is a UFA and could be resigned if nothing else for his right handed shot, something the current blueline lacks. Schenn is also a right handed shot. The last time two brothers played for the Flyers at the same time was during the 1980’s when Rich and Ron Sutter suited up for the orange and black.
From Toronto’s point of view Schenn became an issue with former Head Coach Ron Wilson who reduced Schenn’s playing time. With the Flyers he will get plenty of ice time and with the Leafs adding JVR he will make the left wing position even stronger since they already have two 20 plus goal scorers in Joffrey Lupul and Clarke MacArthur.
The Leafs still need help on right wing and center. Toronto was 10th in offense and 29th in defense but could use more scoring at either position. Look for the Leafs to go after another forward sometime in free agency. Toronto did draft Morgan Reilly 5th overall in this year’s draft and could crack the Leafs blueline to replace Schenn’s minutes.