The unification of the Schenn brothers has been a wet dream of Toronto Maple Leafs fans since the Los Angelas Kings swooped in and drafted the younger Brayden (5th) in the 2009 entry draft while the Leafs ‘settled’ for Nazem Kadri (7th). As Luke has continued to develop on the blueline for the Leafs, Brayden was a major component to the Mike Richards trade this summer as he headed in return to the Philadelphia Flyers. For some strange reason many people have this romantic idea that Brayden would eventually join Luke in the blue and white leading the Leafs in their renaissance. After two seasons of horrible trade rumours linking the then King and now Flyer to the Leafs, the whispers have begun linking Luke to Brayden’s Flyers. In return the Leafs are apparently said to be looking to acquire 22 year old winger James van Riemsdyk.
In van Riemsdyk – whom the Leafs apparently seriously covet – the Leafs would be obtaining a 6’3″ 200 lbs impact winger that they desperately need. Selected 2nd overall in 2007 behind Patrick Kane, JVR has had a sputtering beginning to his NHL career. A streaky scorer van Riemsdyk has registered 15 and 21 goals in his first two seasons. There are stretches in which his size, speed and skill emerge and van Riemsdyk shows flashes of greatness. What is important to consider is that big forwards take longer to develop and grow into their bodies. At 22 JVR will eventually become the player that people believe him to be, the key is can Brian Burke lure him out of Philly before he explodes?
During last years playoffs most people believed van Riemsdyk had apparently finally figured it out. He scored 7 goals in the 11 post season games, and outplayed his all-star teammates. In the off-season the Flyers shipped out franchise cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter believing that Claude Giroux and JVR would step into their place. While Giroux has had a Hart trophy start to this season, van Riemsdyk has continued his streaky play. With lynchpin defenseman Chris Pronger gone for the season (and maybe his career) the Flyers are said to be desperately seeking a physical defenseman as a replacement.
Luke has never been considered a franchise player around the league, but in Toronto he has had unrealistic expectations placed upon him. Schenn is a solid and dependable member of the blue and white. His bread and butter is his play in his own zone. Schenn led all defenseman last season with 251 hits, and sits among the leaders this season with 130. His style of play is one that translates well to the Flyers fanbase, but Luke will never become an all-around star in the NHL as his offensive abilities are limited. At best Schenn can become a solid second pairing defenseman on a good team. Van Riemsdyk on the other hand has the potential – and has shown – that he can become a perennial 40 goal scorer and game changer.
Personally I don’t believe the Fylers will give up on JVR, but Burke has managed to pull off the amazing before. Would I trade Schenn for van Riemsdyk? In a heartbeat. Would I trade Schenn and Tyler Bozak for van Riemsdyk? In a heartbeat. I draw the line at Nikolai Kulemin and Kadri, but I think a lower level prospect like a Matt Frattin might get the deal done. Look for the rumours to continue until the trade deadline and maybe there will be a Schenn reunion in the city of brotherly love.