By: Wes Herrmann (@Wes_Herrm)
The Philadelphia Flyers’ first decision at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft was no surprise. Their second, was.
After selecting Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall traded forward Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick, which the Flyers drafted Morgan Frost with, and a conditional first-round pick. Elliotte Friedman had the conditions:
Effectively, it’s Schenn for Lehtera and two first-round picks with a conditional third-rounder. It’s a solid return for a Flyers team that added offense this offseason.
Schenn has been a consistent power play scorer for Philly, but not as much at even-strength. Fans typically yearned for more from the 2009 fifth overall pick. Schenn had his best year in 2015-16 with 59 points. He followed that up this past season with 55.
Filling that production will be difficult, but the Flyers plan on adding Patrick, Oskar Lindblom and possibly a full season of Jordan Weal. They also saved about $400,000 on the cap with the Lehtera-Schenn swap. The former Blue also has one less year on his deal.
But Lehtera may not be able to help much with making up Schenn’s production. After a 44-point rookie season, the Finn has declined from 34 points to just 22 last season. A part of the reason why the Blues paid so much for Schenn was to move Lehtera’s contract.
He’s also a center, which the Flyers now have a surplus of at this point. That begs the question if Hextall has another move up his sleeve. But that’s just speculation at this point.
Philadelphia was able to use one of the picks it received in the deal immediately, drafting Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. The selection was also one of surprise.
Finnish forward Eeli Tolvanen, ranked anywhere from 17 to 24 pre-draft, was still on the board. Frost’s highest ranking was 38 by Bob McKenzie.
Frost scored 62 points in 67 games with the Greyhounds after just 27 in 65. It’s a nice progression, but the pick was almost as surprising as the trade.
The Flyers will now have to fill some of Schenn’s scoring, most notably on the power play, but plan to improve and could have two first-round picks at next year’s draft.
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