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Revisiting the Flyers Draft-Day Trade with the Blues

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Flyers completed a deal late on the opening night of the 2017 NHL Draft by sending Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for the 27th overall pick -- used to select Morgan Frost -- forward Jori Lehtera and a conditional 2018 first round pick.

At the time, it may have not made much sense, but now it seems like the trade shows clear paths for both sides.

Nearly seven months after the trade was made, both teams from the trade should be more than happy with what they got in return.

For St. Louis, Schenn is having the best year in his young career so far with 44 points, 17 goals and 27 assists in just 47 games. He needs just 16 points to have a career high with 60, and should have plenty of room to spare. He has seen action with the top line consisting of Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz for a majority of the season.

Lately Schenn has centered the Blues’ second line alongside Dmitrij Jaskin and Alex Steen. The most important reason why Schenn is a savior for the Blues is because of the season-ending torn ACL to young star Robby Fabbri back in September. Fabbri first tore his ACL in early February last season and underwent surgery to repair the damage.

After months of rehab, Fabbri was medically cleared in July then rejoined the team in mid-September for the start of training camp. Fabbri played in his first preseason game, where he recorded 19 minutes of ice time. Following the game, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong stated that Fabbri noticed some swelling in his left knee, which immediately caught the eye of the team's medical staff. According to reports, Fabbri had an MRI done in which doctors felt they saw a tear in the ACL. The day after the surgery, Fabbri flew to Chicago to see Dr. Bernard Bach, who performed the original surgery on Feb. 28. Dr. Bach confirmed the ACL tear.

Since Fabbri’s absence, Schenn has done a tremendous job filling in.  

For the Flyers, they used the 27th overall pick in the draft to draft Frost of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhoundswho had scored 62 points in 67 games last year.

In his scouting report on Hockeyprospect.com, Frost is described as a player with “good hockey sense and he reads plays quickly in all three zones and reacts accordingly.” He is also a playmaking pivot who reads the game intelligently, calm and poised, agile on his skates and possesses excellent edge work” as stated by futureconsiderations.ca.

They notable qualities are spot on for Frost, as he has been phenomenal and is proving why GM Ron Hextall’s decision to draft Frost is a great one. In just his third season with the Greyhounds, he has 27 goals and 44 assists for a total of 71 points in just 42 games. He is currently riding a 20-game point streak with 16 goals and 27 assists during the streak. Frost also leads the OHL in points with 71, eight more than the next-highest scorer.

Lehtera has struggled greatly with his new team as he has only posted three assists in 26 total games with the Flyers. He has consistently and constantly been in and out of Dave Hakstol’s lineup where he has played on the third and fourth line.

Since arriving in the NHL back in 2014-15, Lehtera’s numbers have deteriorated by 10 points or more each season. In his rookie year, the 30-year-old Finn scored 44 points. The following season, he had 34 points and last season had just 22 points. At the rate he is going, Lehtera will be lucky if he can reach 10 points by the end of the year.

The main reason why he was traded was due to his contract. Lehtera is signed through the 2019-20 season with a cap hit of $4.7 million per year. The Flyers could desperately use some cap relief because according to capfriendly.com, Philadelphia only has approximately $2.4 million in cap space. There is always the option to buy out Lehtera, or they could let pending free agents Valtteri Filppula and Matt Read walk for free agency to alleviate some cap space.

Another key part of Schenn’s departure was his role on the top power-play unit as he had done a superb job understanding how to complement his linemates surrounding him. He quickly became the fourth-highest scorer on the man advantage from 2015-17 in the NHL with 28 power-play goals.

After Schenn was shipped to the Blues last June, the Flyers' top power-play unit suddenly had a job opening catching the eye of another young and talented forward in Sean Couturier.

"I saw an opportunity," Couturier said Tuesday following the team’s morning skate prior to their matchup against the New York Rangers. "Didn't get it early in the year, but as the year went on, got the chance to get a look in that spot and just trying to capitalize on it."

Couturier is performing exceptionally well and is greatly filling in Schenn’s skates and role on the top unit. Before the 5-1 loss to the "blue shirts," three of Couturier’s seven goals during the Flyers' four-game winning streak had come on the power play.

"He's a smart player, he watched someone for such a long time like he did with Schenner," Jake Voracek said. "He knows what to do and we talk about it a lot, we talk a lot of power play, how to get better, what to do when we have a bad game to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Now for the final piece of the trade. The Orange and Black received a conditional 2018 first-round pick from St. Louis as well. If the 2018 draft pick becomes a Top-10 pick, the Blues have the option to move the pick to 2019. If the pick is moved to 2019, the Flyers will also receive a 2020 third-round pick. However, if you take a look at the most recent standings, that won’t happen because St. Louis is one of the top teams in the NHL, currently sixth highest in points, and third in the Central Division with a 27-17-3 record and 57 points, closely behind the Nashville Predators 58 points and the division leading Winnipeg Jets with 59.

Schenn has been on a bit of a slump lately, but he could and should have a career high of 60 points or even more. Obviously, Frost isn’t in the NHL yet but his time will come in another year or two because he needs to be fully developed before being making the Flyers roster, and at only 19 years of age there's isn't a rush to bring him up. He has legitimate potential to be a Top-6 forward for Philadelphia. Lehtera could be used more often but he has not performed his best lately for the Flyers. 

Regardless, it is turning out to be a good all-around trade for both teams now half a season after the deal went down.

Comments

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Tom

Is good it is good to hear how well Morgan Frost is doing thanks for the update

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