This is not a drill: the Philadelphia Flyers have traded Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for young forward Jordan Weal and a 3rd Round Pick. In the process, the Flyers also saved $4 million against the cap. Rejoice, Flyers Nation! Not only did GM Ron Hextall manage to trade these two away, but he was able to acquire some real value in return! Let’s analyze what exactly the Flyers gave away, what they got in return, and the impact this trade will have on both the Flyers and the Kings in the future.
What the Flyers Gave Up (Luke Schenn, Vincent Lecavalier):
Flyers fans know all too well what the Flyers are giving up in Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier: players who never lived up to expectations. First, let’s relive the Luke Schenn experience. Schenn came over from Toronto in the summer of 2012 and was expected to be a mainstay on the Flyers’ defense for years to come. He was exactly what the Flyers needed: a big, right-shooting, defensive defenseman. Even better, Luke would get the chance to play with his brother, Brayden, in Philadelphia. But there were issues with Schenn right from the start of his tenure in Philly, specifically what the Flyers gave up to get him. In order to acquire the former 5th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, the Flyers said goodbye to their own 2nd overall pick from 2007, valuable power forward James van Riemsdyk, which rubbed some fans the wrong way. So in essence, the deck was stacked against Schenn from the start.
On the ice, Schenn was a polarizing player for the Flyers. He would have games where he would use his 6’2″, 229 lb frame to his advantage, completely shutting down the opposition (see: 2014 playoffs), but there were also games where Schenn would get taken advantage of due to his slow skating speed and lack of puck skills. Here’s the funny thing about Luke Schenn though: Despite the opinion of some casual fans that he is a butcher with the puck and a plodder without it, he was usually one of the 5 best defensemen that the Flyers iced, had his moments on offense and defense, and was a likable guy off of the ice. Schenn was a free agent to be, and with the Flyers showing no signs of wanting him back, Hextall pulled the trigger on a trade and got what he could for Luke, a very smart move. Luke Schenn will go down in Philadelphia as a good-but-not-great defenseman that needed to be judged for what he was, not what he could have been.
Now onto the elephant in the room: Vincent Lecavalier. After the Tampa Bay Lightning bought out their captain in the 2013 offseason, the Flyers surprisingly swooped in as a mystery team and nabbed Lecavalier, signing him to a 5-year, $22.5 million contract. Initial reactions from Flyers fans were mixed. Sure, Vinny would be a proven scorer and an upgrade over the bought-out Danny Briere, but there was no obvious spot for Lecavalier in the lineup. The latter eventually became Vinny’s downfall in Philadelphia.
At the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Lecavalier came out on fire, even notching a hat trick versus the New York Islanders in the season’s first month. But that all changed during the line brawl of November 1, 2013 versus the Washington Capitals. In the fracas, Lecavalier ate a punch and missed some time with a facial fracture. From that point on, Lecavalier was never the same. A fired head coach and a shift from center to left wing didn’t help, but it was clear from the start that Vinny was not a fit in Philadelphia. A demotion to the 4th line sparked a late-season surge from Lecavalier, but it was the last of its kind. After being a healthy scratch for most of 2014 and 2015, the Flyers had to rid themselves of Lecavalier any way possible. After surprisingly finding a taker in Los Angeles, don’t expect to see too many Lecavalier jerseys around the Wells Fargo Center in the future. Vinny is a hall-of-fame player and I wish him all the best, but he just didn’t work out in Philadelphia.
What the Flyers Acquired (Jordan Weal, 3rd Round Pick):
The best part about the Lecavalier/Schenn trade for the Flyers wasn’t that they got to rid themselves of two problematic players, but that they actually received a worthwhile return, as well as huge cap relief. Jordan Weal is a player that the Flyers are intrigued by, and it’s easy to see why. Weal is a small, right-shooting center that has posted almost a point per game the last two seasons in the AHL. He is a good skater and is sound defensively as well. Obviously there was a reason why the Kings never gave Weal a real shot with the big club and were willing to give him away in a trade, but his ceiling could be high. The Kings’ trash could just end up being the Flyers’ treasure in Jordan Weal.
The Flyers also acquired a 3rd-round pick, a very valuable piece. Ron Hextall has options with this pick. Being that the Flyers now have 10 draft picks for 2016, Hextall could elect to trade one if he receives a meaningful return, or he could keep it and select a prospect. The Flyers also saved significant money against the cap with this slick deal. The Flyers have $4 million more in space today than they did before the trade, which is proof that miracles exist. And with Schenn’s contract expiring on July 1 and Lecavalier expected to retire, the Flyers won’t have either of these contracts on their hands after this season! The Flyers are in a much better place today than they were 2 days ago after this trade.
Winners and Losers:
To be honest, the fact that the Kings gave the Flyers this much in return for two bit players is shocking, and it marks a clear win for the Flyers. Obviously, Lecavalier and Schenn are big winners of this deal too. They are going to a Stanley Cup contender and will receive defined roles, something that they rarely had in Philadelphia. The only real loser here is Kings GM Dean Lombardi. He gave up more than expected for two mild acquisitions, which could bite him when it’s all said and done. And with Lecavalier retiring at season’s end, the Flyers will have both of these players off of their salary in July, which seemed impossible just 2 weeks ago. Take a bow, Ron Hextall. The future is bright in Philadelphia for the first time in a long time.