Flyers fans were sent into a tiz when it was announced that they had shipped center Brayden Schenn to St. Louis in exchange for Jori Lehtera, a late first round pick in 2017, and a conditional first round pick the next. The condition being if it were a top ten pick, St. Louis keeps it, and send the Flyers a first round pick in 2019 no matter what, and their third round pick in 2019 as well.
At first glance, you might ask such questions as, “What the hell is Hextall thinking?” and “Why would you ship away one of your best centers?” The answers are easier to understand than you may think.
Brayden Schenn is 26 years old. No, that isn’t old by any means. When you look at the rest of the Flyers, most importantly the key pieces they have in place for the future, he isn’t the ideal complimentary piece to these up and comers.
Nolan Patrick was taken 2nd overall the same year Morgan Frost was taken later in that same round. The year before, the Flyers selected German Rubtsov in the later part of the first. The year prior, they took Ivan Provorov in the top ten, and acquired a late first round pick with which they selected Travis Konecny. It’s no secret that the Flyers are getting younger, and it’s happening very quickly.
By the time that the Flyers get these young kids up with the club, many players will be getting older, and could be on a downward trajectory according to statistics. Players like Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek, even Claude Giroux. What Ron Hextall did with this trade was he got rid of a player who could be on a downward trajectory when the prospects are all ready to take over, and acquired a drat pick to select a player who could potentially be a cornerstone of the Flyers youth movement.
Addition by subtraction, it’s a simple method. You get rid of something to add something. The Flyers got rid of Brayden Schenn, and acquired Jori Lehtera, and two first round picks. The best is yet to come, because that “conditional” pick for this year’s draft looks to end up JUST outside of the top ten, which means the Flyers acquire it. So not only did you get a perennial fourth line winger, who has been playing much better as of late, and a late first round pick who absolutely dominated the Ontario Hockey League, but you also have a pick that could land in the 11-15 range, and net you a prospect that may be ready for the NHL right away.
At first glance, the Flyers may be looking towards defense in this upcoming draft. The past few years have focused on forwards, with the likes of Frost, Rubtsov, and Konecny getting drafted, so it may be time to revisit the blue line. Prospects like Ty Smith, Adam Boqvist, Quinton Hughes, and Rasmus Sandin have been discussed as potential targets for the Flyers two first round selections.
This years draft is chock full of offensive defensemen. If they end up with any one of those defensemen, it’s likely that it will be Rasmus Sundin, who averaged almost a point per game this year in the OHL on the same team as Flyers stud prospect Morgan Frost.
So backtracking back to the trade now, and filling in the spots, the Flyers traded away Brayden Schenn to St. Louis. In exchange, the Blue sent Jori Lehtera, Morgan Frost, and potentially Rasmus Sandin to the Flyers. Considering the fact that the Blues are sliding further and further out of playoff contention this year, and that only strengthens the chances of their first round pick being closer to the 11-15 range.
Yes, Brayden Schenn has tied his career high in goals this year, and already has career highs in points, assists, and plus/minus. Yes, many people think that it was a mistake to trade him away, especially after the year he had for the Flyers last year. However, Think of it the way it was presented earlier.
Let’s say it takes a max of four years for all these prospects to get to the NHL. They get there, and, like most rookies, take a few years to get acclimated before they reach the level they’re capable of. That may be another 4 fours. Simple math, it will be 8 years until all these prospects come up through and start making an impact. Potentially. Brayden Schenn would be 34 by the time all that happens. Compare that to Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost, and Rasmus Sandin, who will be 27, 26, and 25 respectively.
It was an economic move by Hextall, realizing that he would rather stock up for the future, and put in place the pieces that will help these prospects succeed when ready, than to keep around a guy who is a solid contributor, but knowing full well the type of exchange he could get for him.
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This isn’t a case where Hextall pulled a fast one on St. Louis. He didn’t get away with anything. This was calculated, and well thought out. Hextall is future-minded and he did this move to benefit the kids already in the prospect pool. This is why the Flyers won this trade. They got better in the long-term, while St. Louis initially did as well, but have floundered as of late, which benefits the Flyers even more due to the conditional first round pick.
The Flyers literally made out like bandits here, and are now in better shape for the future than they already were. The prospect pool is even deeper than before, the Flyers got a quality fourth line guy out of the deal, and they ultimately got rid of about a million dollars in cap space. That seems like a win to me.
Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports