One deal that seems to be forgotten about is the June trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs that sent James van Riemsdyk to Toronto in exchange for defenseman Luke Schenn. JVR, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, did not live up to the hype in Philadelphia as he was marred by injuries and only mustered 47 goals and 99 points in 196 games with the Flyers. The change of scenery might do him some good. The return? The return might turn out to be extremely valuable in the future.
Schenn, the No. 5 overall pick in 2008, comes to Philadelphia for a much needed change of scenery as well. Schenn always had a target on his back in Toronto as many people expected him to be a No. 1 defenseman by now. Schenn isn’t in the top pairing in Philadelphia and, unless something changes, likely won’t be in the second pairing either which will allow him to grow and blossom with much less pressure. Another added bonus is he gets to play with his brother, current Flyers center Brayden Schenn , who was taken No. 5 overall a year after Luke in 2009. The family comfort combined with lower individual expectations might be exactly what Schenn needs to develop into the top defenseman that Toronto thought they were getting.
That is all well and good but where does that leave us? The Flyers will be without Chris Pronger for… well probably forever. They lost Carle but added Schenn. How do they compare? Carle, 28, is a little more offensively polished as he had four goals and 34 assists for 38 points last year. Schenn, 23, only had two goals and 20 assists for 22 points in 2011-12. Schenn (6’2”, 229 lbs.) is much, much more physical that Carle. Schenn led all NHL defenseman last year with 270 hits and finished seventh overall in hits. Carle (6’0”, 205 lbs.) mustered only 55 hits, 13 less than Kimmo Timonen, which ranked 146th of all NHL defensemen. One thing Carle did do was block a lot of shots. He ranked 15th in the NHL with 164 blocked shots, which led the Flyers. Nicklas Grossmann was second on the team with 152 blocked shots. Schenn checked in at 71st in blocked shots with 115.
Essentially the Flyers got a more physical defenseman with a ton of room for improvement both offensively and defensively. Carle has pretty much shown everything he can do and the Flyers didn’t think he was worth $5.5 million annually over six years. It is a tradeoff I think the Flyers, and their fans, will be happy about if Schenn can play up to his potential. Grossmann endeared himself to Flyers fans with his gritty play, I don’t see why Schenn can’t do the same.
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