Brophy on Leafs: Burke has only just begun
PITTSBURGH -- Brian Burke said changes were coming and he stuck to his word.
Just hours after the 2012 NHL entry draft was completed with Toronto picking six prospects, none of whom will help them next season, Burke pulled the trigger on the long-awaited James van Riemsdyk deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.
In exchange for the 23-year-old left winger from Middletown, NJ, the Leafs sent 22-year-old Saskatoon, SK, native Luke Schenn to the Flyers. Schenn has four years of NHL experience while van Riemsdyk has played three years in the league.
The trade comes exactly one year after Schennís brother Brayden was traded to Philadelphia by the Los Angeles Kings.
This is a trade that has been talked about for more than a year and it was pretty obvious watching Burke and Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgrenís constant chatter during the second day of the draft something was cooking between the two teams.
For the Leafs it begins to answer their desire to get bigger and more skilled up front while the Flyers get a solid, but still learning defender who plays the game with physicality. Van Riemsdyk -- also known as JVR -- had 11 goals and 24 points in 43 games last season. In 2010-11, van Riemsdyk, who was chosen second overall in 2007, had seven goals in 11 playoff games for the Flyers.
In a statement sent to the media, Burke said: "We are really excited by the parts of the game that James will bring to the Leafs. He will provide speed, size and finesse to our top two lines and we know that he fits those needs that we have wanted to address for some time."
Van Rymsdyk is a highly skilled player who, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, makes the Leafs bigger and better up front. He was thrilled to get the news.
He said he was prepared for the deal because of all the rumours over the past year and added he knows a number of Leafs players including Jake Gardiner, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and Matt Frattin.
"Obviously I heard a lot of stuff over the last year so itís not like I was blindsided by the trade," he told sportsnet.ca. "I am really excited by this opportunity. I have learned a lot over the past few years about how to play the game at this level and also about how to prepare myself off the ice.
"I see myself as a solid two-way player and Iím just looking forward to doing whatever I can to help make Toronto into a winning team."
Schenn is a player who, after four seasons, might not have developed as quickly as some may have liked, but still has great potential to be a top-four shutdown defenceman down the road. He is big at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds and doesnít shy away from the rough going.
The Maple Leafs drafted two defencemen with their first two picks this year and also have three youngsters -- Korbinian Holzer, Jesse Blacker and Stuart Percy -- who are close to being NHL ready. Holzer, in fact, will probably fill the void created by the loss of Schenn.