PITTSBURGH -- For the second day in a row, NHL families were reunited through a blockbuster trade.
A little more than five hours after the final name was called at the NHL Draft at Consol Energy Center on Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers engineered a deal that sent Luke Schenn to the City of Brotherly Love -- where he'll join his younger brother Brayden, who just completed his rookie season with the Flyers.
Toronto received young power forward James van Riemsdyk in return.
"I know they're very close, so I've got to believe it will be a positive thing for Brayden," GM Paul Holmgren said of the reunification of the Schenn brothers.
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"It's just surreal right now," Luke Schenn said after the deal. "It's going to be exciting to play with my brother, that's for sure. I can't describe how cool this is."
This deal came less than 24 hours after the Pittsburgh Penguins hijacked Day 1 of the Draft on Friday night with a bold move that sent center Jordan Staal to Carolina for young center Brandon Sutter, prospect Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 pick in this year's draft, which was used on defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
The Staal deal was somewhat expected as the 23-year-old center, entering the final year of his contract, had turned down a lucrative long-term extension offered by the Penguins earlier this week. While the Hurricanes were expected to be the primary landing spot for Jordan because of the presence of his brother, Eric Staal, the timing was a bit of a shock.
Saturday's deal was more than a mission of family mercy, however.
The Flyers needed the older Schenn to bolster a depleted blue line that also has some older pieces. It was a deal that has been crafted over several months before being consummated Saturday.
"Obviously it was something in the wintertime that [Leafs GM] Brian [Burke] and I discussed in theory, and then I think we both decided to just table it," Holmgren said. "It came up again yesterday and we talked about it. I believe it's a good trade for both teams. It certainly fills a need for us and I think it fills a need for Brian's team as well in terms of what they're looking to do."
Holmgren has been keen on Schenn for several months, but he was unsure how much he wanted to sacrifice to make the deal happen. Saturday, he decided the price was right.
"He's a young guy, he's a right-[handed] shot, he's a big defenseman that plays physical and gritty, and he can move the puck," Holmgren said. "To get guys like this you've got to be picking high in the draft. It's an opportunity for us … and obviously James [van Riemsdyk] was taken high in the draft too. It's another reason I believe why it's a good trade for both teams."
Schenn, 22, was selected No. 5 in 2008 and was expected to be a cornerstone defender. The heavy-hitting stay-at-home defenseman made the team out of training camp in 2008 and has missed just six games in his first three years, managing 75 points in 310 games. He also averaged 260 hits a season for the past two years while playing about 16 minutes per game.
"I think I've told you enough about how strongly I feel about James becoming a good player, and I believe he will become a very good player in our League. Unfortunately for us, I think it's going to be for Toronto now." -- Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren on dealing James van Riemsdyk
The Flyers clearly hope that he molds into the punishing-type defender that was sorely missed after captain Chris Pronger was sidelined by a career-threatening head injury early this past season.
But in order to bring in Luke Schenn, the Flyers were forced to sacrifice 23-year-old van Riemsdyk, one of the biggest power forward prospects in the NHL. A first-round pick in 2007, selected right after Patrick Kane went to Chicago at No. 1, van Riemsdyk has 47 goals and 99 points in 196 regular-season games.
However, van Riemsdyk missed half of this past season with injuries, managing 24 points in 43 games, though he reached the 40-point plateau the previous season.
"These things happen," van Riemsdyk said during a media conference call when asked whether the oft-rumored deal came as a surprise. "It's never that big a surprise. I wasn't completely blindsided."
"I'm excited to come to Toronto and start a new chapter of my career."
Holmgren insisted he did not part ways with van Riemsdyk because the forward had plateaued earlier than expected, but because he had to give something of value to get the player he wanted.
"I think I've told you enough about how strongly I feel about James becoming a good player, and I believe he will become a very good player in our League," Holmgren said. "Unfortunately for us, I think it's going to be for Toronto now. The guy we got coming back is going to fill needs on our team and is going to be a good young player on our team. So I think it's a win-win."
Throughout the weekend, Philadelphia has been placed by sources in negotiations about several players, including franchise forward Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Holmgren did not discuss any deal in specifics, but made it clear that Saturday's move does not impact his plans to further remake a team that was eliminated in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't think anything shuts the door on anything else we may look to do to improve the hockey team," he said. "We tried to improve our defense over the last few days, we looked for ways to try to improve it, and we think we did today."
So does Burke
"My focus since I got here has been to bring in players who can bring our skill level up," Burke said Saturday night during a media conference call a few hours after the deal was made. "He's not a big banger -- he's not the kind of player who's going to put guys through the glass. He's not a plow horse. This is a thoroughbred."