CHICAGO — And you thought the Flyers were done. Ron Hextall is never done.
Brayden Schenn has been traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft, NHL center Jori Lehtera and a conditional 2018 first round pick. With the 27th pick acquired in the trade, the Flyers selected forward Morgan Frost of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He had 62 points in 67 games last year.
That conditional 2018 pick will stay in St. Louis if it’s in the top 10, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. It is unlikely that the Blues will have a top 10 pick, so we’ll expect two first round picks in our court in next year’s draft.
Let’s get into the detail of this trade here.
Who is Jori Lehtera?
First, on Lehtera. He’s overpaid and frankly not that good. He has two more years left on his deal at $4.7 million against the cap each year, and he’s 29 years old. He had just seven goals and 15 assists. Here’s a piece on him from back in January via our friends at St. Louis Game Time:
In 2015 Lehtera was coming off his first season with the Blues. He had caught the eye of many Blues fans while centering the red hot line of Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. During that year he logged 14 goals and 30 assists in 75 regular season games as well as 2 helpers in 5 playoff games.
Things were looking good for the Finnish forward. His defensively responsible game had made him a favorite of coach Ken Hitchcock while his chemistry with franchise player Tarasenko had caught the eye of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. Unfortunately, Lehtera’s first season with the Blues would also prove to be his best-to-date. ...
Unfortunately, Lehtera’s downward trend has continued. This season, the first of his new contract, he has recorded 6 goals and 13 assists all while still playing along side the number one goal scorer on the team. This missed opportunity in Monday night’s loss to Florida about sums up his entire season.
But I don’t think this deal is really about him. It’s about the two first round picks acquired in this trade, and also about the guy that the Flyers selected at No. 2 earlier tonight in Nolan Patrick.
Moving Schenn makes room at center
The Flyers took Nolan Patrick tonight. We don’t know if he will be in the NHL this coming season, but honestly we’d feel pretty comfortable assuming he will. There was a log jam at center, and Schenn was taking up one of those spots.
And what was Schenn really doing with it? The Flyers obviously don’t expect him to snap out of the funk he’s settled into at even strength in his career, and he is clearly only a threat on the power play these days. 17 of his 25 goals last year came on the power play, and sure ... it’s good to have power play goals. But Schenn was borderline useless at even strength, and it’s clear that Ron Hextall was ready to move on from him as a result.
Patrick can probably fill in on the power play, and can do more with it at least over the longer term. At the very least, it’ll give him a bigger role in Year 1 than otherwise would have been the case with Schenn in the fold.
Schenn is a better player than Lehtera, don’t get me wrong there. But Lehtera is slightly cheaper and has
two one fewer year on his deal. For a team that’s not really going to compete for a Stanley Cup in the next two years, there’s no shame in making a move that saves cap space down the line and also allows your new exciting prospect some extra responsibility.
And hey, at the end of the day even without Lehtera, two first round picks in exchange for a player in Schenn that the team had essentially given up on? Not bad value.
What did they get in Morgan Frost?
Well, there’s this:
Hahahah the flyers are shit— morgan frost (@_morganfrost_10) November 2, 2013
But in all seriousness, Frost is a speedy playmaking type. He is not a prospect who will jump right into the NHL, but definitely has upside. Here’s some of it:
A Morgan Frost goal for PHI fans viewing pleasure (had a suspicion needed to get this ready for today) pic.twitter.com/EwRLpnseSh— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) June 24, 2017
And here’s what ESPN’s Corey Pronman had to say about him in his Top 100 NHL prospects list. Frost was 53rd on that list.
Frost showed significant development in his 17-year-old season, being a top player for the Greyhounds. His hockey sense is what stands out to me. Frost is a great playmaker who is often a primary creator of scoring chances. While he's great when he has the puck on his stick in general, I'd like to see him improve away from the puck. He also isn't a fierce competitor in puck battles. Moreover, his skating doesn't look explosive. His top gear is just OK, though he shows great agility and burst in his first few steps. I see a lot of potential in Frost's game, but he'll need time to round out some of those deficiencies.
Frost is going to be a project, and maybe the Flyers jumped up too far to get him. It’s possible that he could have been available when they pick next at 44, and there was some talent on the board in a guy like Eeli Tolvanen. But they must really see something in Frost that they like, and we’ll have at least a few years until we know whether or not this was the correct move with this pick.
The bottom line is that two first round picks and a player in Lehtera who can maybe turn his career around in Philly is not a bad haul for Brayden Schenn, who has felt like an odd man out here for a long time. June 23 strikes again.