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Numbers Game: Leafs deal Schenn for van Riemsdyk

Scott Cullen

6/23/2012 10:13:14 PM


The Toronto Maple Leafs got a big forward and the Philadelphia Flyers secured a brother combination in a one-for-one swap of previously high draft picks.

Numbers Game breaks down the deal that saw Philadelphia send James van Riemsdyk to Toronto in exchange for Luke Schenn.

The Maple Leafs Get: LW James van Riemsdyk.

James van Riemsdyk, 23, hasn't yet blossomed in the NHL since getting drafted second overall in 2007, scoring a career-high 21 goals and 41 points in 2010-2011. Last season, van Riemsdyk got off to a good start, tallying seven goals and 16 points in 19 games before injuries (upper body, concussion, broken foot) started to wreak havoc with his season, causing him to miss 39 games and his production never got back on track after an upper body injury in late November.

A 6-foot-3 winger with size and soft hands, van Riemsdyk may have had his best moments in the 2011 playoffs, when he scored seven goals in 11 games while registering an astonishing 70 shots on goal. When he's on, van Riemsdyk has the ability to attack in a relentless fashion, but it's been an ongoing battle to get that production consistently.

Signed for the next six years, at a cap hit of $4.25-million, van Riemsdyk does have a hip injury that has been bothering him, but was recently deemed to not need surgery to correct the problem.

In Toronto, presuming he's healthy, van Riemsdyk will give the Leafs more size among their top six forwards. If he's in the top six, though, that will mean either Clarke MacArthur or Nikolai Kulemin could be bumped out to make room. Of course, the summer isn't done yet, so more moves may be afoot.

If van Riemsdyk becomes a consistent 25-goal scorer, the Maple Leafs ought to be thrilled with the deal and van Riemsdyk should get the opportunity to play more significant minutes than he has to this point in Philadelphia, so raising his level of production as he matures should be part of the expectation. Make no mistake, head coach Randy Carlyle will have expectations for van Riemsdyk to use that size to create scoring chances on a regular basis.

The Flyers Get: D Luke Schenn.

22-year-old Luke Schenn was the fifth overall pick in 2008 and, while he's had his moments, he's coming off a poor season for the Maple Leafs during which he played a career-low 16:02 per game. Schenn did tie a career-high with 22 points, in significantly fewer minutes than the year before, but he was effectively sheltered by the Toronto coaching staff, kept away from the opposition's best forward lines (per www.behindthenet.ca).

That's noteworthy because the year prior, Schenn faced a higher calibre of competion and played more than 22 minutes per game. Certainly, the Flyers hope that they are getting that kind of defenceman -- a young, physical blueliner who, despite his limited playing time last season, led all defencemen with 270 hits.

Joining his brother, Brayden Schenn, in Philadelphia would seem to be a positive influence, but the more important factor from the Flyers' perspective is that they need Schenn to play a regular role on the blueline. He doesn't necessarily have to fit in the top four, especially if Matt Carle re-signs, but 18-20 reliable minutes would be a good place to start when it comes to his contribution.
 
Signed for four more years, at a cap hit of $3.6-million per season, Schenn needs to improve his skating and decision-making if he's going to rise back into a top-four role on a consistent basis.

This long-rumoured deal is one in which both teams are dealing from a respective position of strength, even if the players that they are dealing have been relatively disappointing thus far.

Philadelphia is well-stocked up front and made do without van Riemsdyk's contributions for much of the second half last season, but the defence corps could use more depth, considering Carle's pending unrestricted free agent status and the likelihood that Chris Pronger will remain sidelined due to post-concussion syndrome.

Toronto, on the other hand, had relegated Schenn to a minimal role on the blueline -- a role that can likely be replaced by a less expensive acquisition (or, in a dream world, the addition of collegiate free agent Justin Schultz), so using him to get a big scoring winger with potential makes sense.

It's possible that neither one of these players may materialize into what was expected on draft day, or they both might flourish in new locations. The real rub to this deal will be if only one of them finds success with a new club, then there will be a decisive victor in what, today, looks like a sensible enough deal for both sides.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.