Now that the dust has settled and emotions are winding down from the first night of the NHL Draft, we can look back and assess how Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers did so far.
Yesterday was a whirlwind of emotion, to say the least. The Flyers ended up coming away with Nolan Patrick who, among most in the hockey community, is regarded as the clear-cut number one prospect in this draft. The only concern that plagues Patrick is his ability to recover from a double sports hernia injury. This is a tricky injury as the timetable recovering from it takes time.
There was some speculation that the Devils were back and forth between the two gifted prospects heading into this draft, but they ultimately decided on Nico Hischier. This wasn’t all that surprising as Jersey can now pair him with superstar Taylor Hall. This could very well be the next great duo in the East, claiming that title from Washington Capital stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
After the first 10 minutes of the draft, everything seemed to quiet down. There were your occasional meetings between GMs and coaches, but nothing out of the ordinary. That was until the St. Louis Blues pick was emerging. Ron Hextall pulled the trigger on a (controversial) trade involving a key member of the Flyers core in Brayden Schenn.
Hextall sent Schenn to St. Louis for their 27th overall pick and took forward Morgan Frost. Bob McKenzie of TSN ranked him the 38th best prospect. With Eeli Tolvanen sliding down the board from his projected spot of 13th overall, the organization’s scouts must have seen something in Frost that no one else had.
Hextall also netted a 2018 first round pick from the Blues, but the pick is also top 10 protected. In all reality, the Blues will not have a top ten pick and the Flyers should have their pick and the Blues pick that will land between 25-31 overall. Should their pick fall within the top ten, then Philly will receive the Blues 2019 pick regardless, and a conditional third rounder.
Philly also received 29-year-old Jori Lehtera. He is a defensive-minded forward with average offensive skills. If he isn’t moved look for him to replace Bellemare as a penalty kill specialist. He also has two years remaining on his contract for just under five million a year. It is cheaper than the contract Schenn has but is the extra million off the books really worth it?
There is speculation that Lehtera could be moved again today at some point, most notably in a trade for Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The rumors to bring in a scoring wing for Giroux are also heating up as all signs point to Colorado Avalanche star Gabriel Landeskog. With the Avalanche trying to rid themselves of salary cap and start anew with their team, don’t look for them to absorb Lehtera’s contract unless they are given a high-end prospect/pick to go along with it.
For those of us who loved watching Schenn in orange and black, it will be a tough road to travel. The only way we can tell if this trade was beneficiary to the franchise or a disaster is when we can properly gauge Frost and whatever comes of the two (or three) picks from St. Louis. From all of us here in the City of Brotherly Love, we thank you Brayden Schenn for the relentlessness and grittiness that you brought to reestablish an identity we once lost.