During the first round of the NHL Draft, Ron Hextall and Philadelphia Flyers management traded beloved player Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues.
Schenn, coming off two very productive seasons with the Flyers was shipped to the Blues for Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick and a conditional first round pick in 2018. According to Elliot Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, “Conditions on second pick from STL to PHI: top 10 protected, STL has option to push to 2019. If they do so, PHI also gets a third in 2020.”
Schenn just finished the first year of a four-year, $20.5 million deal that carries a $5.125 million cap hit, while Lehtera makes $4.7 million annually, through 2019.
On the surface this may look like the type of move that signals a rebuild. After selecting Nolan Patrick with the 2nd overall selection and moving Schenn for picks and prospects Hextall may be playing the long game. Although, “Trust the Process” hasn’t been mentioned yet, when a top player is moved off your roster for essentially 3 question marks one begins to wonder.
Coming back for Schenn the Flyers received Jori Lehtera, a 6’2, 29-year-old center. His NHL career consists of 3 seasons, with his rookie campaign being his best. Last year Lehtera tallied just 7 goals and 15 helpers in 64 game season in which he struggled with injuries and a few healthy scratches.
With the 27th overall selection, the Flyers selected Sault Ste. Marie center Morgan Frost. Frost finished fourth on the Greyhounds in scoring this year with 20 goals and 42 assists in 67 games. It was the third center Philly acquired during the first day of the NHL Draft, having selected Nolan Patrick 2nd overall and getting Lehtera in this trade.
According to Peter Kneulman, a OHL writer, “Frost has the ability to score in a multitude of ways and that versatility has allowed him to work his way up the depth chart on a very deep Greyhounds team. His strong play helped the team overcome the loss of Blake Speers early in the season.
He has a great shot and an ability to find open spaces on the ice that has allowed him to thrive on the power play. At times he has played the point on the power play for the Hounds this year only to come up with a great defensive play to prevent a short-handed opportunity.”
Only time will tell who won this trade, as of right now the Blues definitely received the best player in the deal. With Lehtera, Frost and picks to come, Ron Hextall is banking on developing a strong team down the middle with a young core that should be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2018.