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Nearly an entire year since the Flyers traded Schenn to the Blues for Lehtera, a 2017 1st round pick (Morgan Frost) and a 2018 pick.
The Blues fans’ social media narrative for the first couple months was “Tee hee! Lehtera for Schenn SUCKERS”.
Then when the Blues traded Stastny and looked positively awful the narrative switched to “Holy Schnieckees! We might owe a really good pick!”
Neither extreme tells the story. I’m going to break this trade down and declare it the rarest of NHL feats: A win-win for both clubs.
Simplistic Homer Perspectives
Blues got the better player! Best player acquired wins the trade!
Flyers made the playoffs! Clearly, Schenn wasn’t part of their plans! Plus, a pair of 1sts!
There’s nuance in everything. To me it’s like arguing music; who’s the better band? The Clash or the Avett Brothers? I live in a world where I can love both for different reasons and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In the Post-Salary cap NHL, you simply can not judge a trade solely by player movement.
What the Blues got
A very good center. Very good centers are scarce.
Schenn was way better than I thought he’d be as well.
My initial gut reaction was the Blues acquired Backes Lite; net-front presence without the hitting and defensive conscious. My gut was once again wrong: Schenn is a much better player than my Tomas Holstrom-esque dismissal.
They also moved a truly awful Lehtera contract. 4.7M AAV and two years for a borderline 4th liner. I can’t give too much credit here, because that contract is such a black hole the Blues had to send the 2nd 1st round to make it work.
What the Flyers got
The Flyers cleaned up their roster. They were crazy deep at center with Schenn, Giroux, Couturier, and Filppula. They had the 2nd overall pick, which turned out to be Nolan Patrick (center). Patrick was going to have a tough time getting on the ice, and Philly really wanted to increase Couturier’s role.
From Philly’s perspective, Schenn’s contract wasn’t great. Signed until 2020 with a 5.125M cap hit, for a garbage goal PP specialist. Say what you will about Lehtera, his contract had less term and a smaller AAV.
Ron Caron was quoted many times saying, “Draft picks don’t wear skaters!” That was true in the 80s, but you know what’s true currently? Draft picks don’t count against the cap. Entry level contracts are affordable.
So let’s look at the picks.
Morgan Frost: he had a terrific year in the OHL, rivaling Jordan Kyrou. But slow down on both! They’re 19 years old and playing in a league of 16-18 year-olds. It would be more predictive if both of them struggled. Anyways, if Blues fans get to be optimistic on Kyrou (and we do), so do Philly fans.
14th overall this year: The 8-16 (ish) draft slots are among the most volatile picks in the league. Tarasenko and Schwartz were picked back to back in this tier. But so was Peter Mueller, Jim Sheppard and a host of other busts. It’s another kick of the can though, it’s probably safe to assume Philly will get ‘NHL regular” talent.
How’d everything work out?
You know what, pretty good for both teams.
I do not want to think of what the Blues season would’ve looked like without Schenn. They’re probably drafting in the top 5; coach and GM are likely fired. AHL kids are asked to play bigger roles possibly stunting their development? Pure speculation on my part here.
The Blues are in a tough spot. It’s going to be a big challenge to rebuild some forward depth this offseason. But we’re talking about affordable 2nd line talent. That’s possible (if unlikely) with some shrewd personnel decisions and giving a long look to Robert Thomas (or one of the other kids).
Philly did great as well too. They improved 10 points and made the playoffs (and they did this with poor goaltending!); Claude Giroux bounced back and then some, Sean Couturier flourished, Thomas Konecny had an amazing 2nd half of the season, while Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov look like they’re going to patrol the Flyers blue line for years. If I were a Flyers fan, I’d be pretty optimistic about next season.