The Philadelphia Flyers have traded forward Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings for forward Jordan Weal and a 2016 3rd-round pick.
It was reported by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun this morning that Lecavalier was desperate to get back on the ice. Several hours later, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall obliged, moving the one-time Stanley Cup winner to Los Angeles for one more shot at the Cup.
Lecavalier has 932 career points in 1,170 games, including 411 goals and 521 assists, to go along with 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 70 career playoff games with the Lightning and Flyers. He signed with the Flyers in the summer of 2013 after the Tampa Bay Lightning used a compliance buyout to buy out the duration of his contract.
Originally taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, Luke Schenn has 117 points (26 goals, 91 assists) in 523 career regular-season games with the Maple Leafs and Flyers. He was acquired by the Flyers in June 2012 in exchange for forward James van Riemsdyk.
From Philadelphia’s perspective, this deal is a win-win-win.
For one thing, it sets in motion the removal of Lecavalier’s albatross of a contract from the Philadelphia books. Lecavalier has struggled in Philadelphia and has not been the same player he used to be. He has been a healthy scratch for basically the entire year, appearing in only seven games this season. He originally signed with the Flyers because he believed he’d be a good fit in the system of head coach Peter Laviolette. However, things have gone downhill for Lecavalier ever since Laviolette was fired three games into Vinny’s first season with the Flyers. Truth be told, there is no room for Lecavalier in the Flyers’ current lineup. But now he will have a chance to chase the Cup one more time before his illustrious career comes to an end.
Luke Schenn has actually played well this season. When he was originally acquired in a deal for James van Riemsdyk, Schenn was supposed to live up to his scouting report that had him becoming a top-pair defenseman. Despite the fact that that was one of the worst trades in Flyers history, Schenn never got close to that in his time with Philly. However, Schenn has played much better hockey this season. But regardless of his play, the Flyers had no intention of resigning him when his current five-year contract expires at the end of this season. With five excellent defensive prospects nearing NHL-readiness, the Flyers have no need to resign Schenn; also, he doesn’t exactly fit in with head coach Dave Hakstol’s system.
The only “catch” here is that the Flyers will retain 50 percent of each player’s contract. However, it’s not really a “catch” for a few reasons. Schenn’s salary retention will expire when his contract is up at the end of this year; the Flyers are simply retaining it this season so that Los Angeles can fit him in under their cap. Also, according to his agent, Lecavalier has pledged to retire at the end of this season and will void the rest of his contract. Additionally, retaining some of Lecavalier’s cap hit was always part of the picture when the Flyers tried to move him in the past.
From Los Angeles’ perspective, this deal isn’t quite as clear-cut as it is for Philadelphia, but it’s a relatively low-risk move with a high chance of upside. In order to pull the trigger on the deal, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi supposedly asked for Lecavalier’s assurance that he would retire at the end of the season. Once that was settled, the rest of the deal fell into place nicely. Even though Lecavalier hasn’t worked out in Philadelphia, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left in the tank. Also, it can never hurt to have another veteran center, especially in the Western Conference. The Kings are without two of their centers from their Cup wins in 2012 and 2014 with the departures of Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll. Lecavalier has repeatedly said he just wants to play and is happy to accept any role he is given.
Further, the deal also makes sense for Los Angeles when it comes to Schenn. Lombardi announced that Kings defenseman Matt Greene is out for the season, so Schenn’s physical play will be welcomed in Los Angeles. Further, Schenn’s right-hand shot makes him even more appealing to the Kings. For the Kings, both players will be gone at the end of the season, so it’s another example of Lombardi and the Kings making smart deals in pursuit of the team’s third Cup in five years.
Lecavalier is very much looking forward to the opportunity.
“I still believe in what I can do and what I can bring,” he told ESPN.com writer Pierre LeBrun. “I can bring leadership, whatever role a team would want me to do. I can play solid both ways. It’s just a matter of having the chance to have some type of role. Whatever role that is, I’d be ready to fill it and help that team win. That’s the most important thing at my age and where I’ve been; the last few years have been really tough. I just really want to win and help be part of that puzzle to help a team win.”
The Kings feel the same way.
“Vinny, at this stage of his career, it’s all about getting one last chance to win it all,” Lombardi said. “I think he’s hungry, and given his mindset, I think it’s a potentially great fit in his role.”
Brayden Schenn, Luke’s younger brother who is still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers after being drafted by the Kings and sent to Philly in the deal for Mike Richards, spoke about the trade.
“For Luke, he’s going to L.A., where it’s kind of his style of hockey, big bodies over there, that play pretty physical and L.A.’s a good team,” he said.
“Pretty excited for [Lecavalier] as well. He’s worked his bag off the past couple of years, and for him to get a chance to be on a contending team playing probably a pretty valuable role is gonna be huge for both of them, and I’m excited for them,” Brayden said.
Though most people agree that Philadelphia is not a true contender, it’s still rare to hear a player openly say something like that about his current team. However, it doesn’t seem like Brayden meant any offense by the comments. His interview was mature and professional even though his brother was dealt, so that’s all you can really ask for. He’s probably still a little surprised about the trade. Brayden has also been linked to trade rumors since the preseason, so it’ll be interesting to follow that storyline moving forward.
Jordan Weal, the center acquired by the Flyers in the trade, will most likely take Lecavalier’s role as the 13th forward on the roster. He cannot be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers, and since he has not yet proven himself at the NHL level, he will most likely travel with the team and fill in for injured players if necessary. But with multiple Flyers forwards being healthy scratches so far this season, it’s highly possible Weal will get his chance sooner rather than later. The hope is that Weal can bring some of his AHL success to the big leagues. Weal, who will wear #19 for the Flyers, has 173 points in 221 AHL games and was named playoff MVP last season when he led the Manchester Monarchs to the Calder Cup. The Flyers also get a 3rd-round draft pick in the deal, which goes along with Hextall’s philosophy of building through the draft.
All in all, this is an interesting trade with benefits for both sides involved. It will certainly help the Flyers’ cap situation moving forward, and it will give the Kings a few new bodies to help round out the team as it looks on to the playoffs. Plus, it’s nice to see a veteran have another chance to win it all rather than sitting and watching his career pass him by.
Featured Image Credit: Amy Irvin-The Hockey Writers