The St. Louis Blues knew they were getting a good player when they acquired Brayden Schenn in the summer. I’m not sure even the most optimistic thought things would turn out as they have.
The St. Louis Blues were in search of a quality player, preferably one that could play center. While most fans were excited about the acquisition of Brayden Schenn, there was some trepidation as well.
There were question marks about whether he was suited to be a true center or not. The biggest issue was whether he was simply a power play specialist or could produce at even strength.
Normally you wait until a full season or longer to truly evaluate a trade. In this instance, there is no need from the Blues perspective. They won it and it might reach legendary status.
That last part will take time, but for now there is no question the Blues fleeced the Philadelphia Flyers. Looking back, it’s a bit puzzling why the deal even came to be.
Seeing how the Flyers are playing a quarter of the way into the season, their main focus was clearly on the draft picks offered in the deal. Philly got the Blues 27th overall pick in 2017 – used to draft Morgan Frost – and a future first round pick. Frost is doing well in the OHL, but who knows how that compares to the pros.
For a team looking to retool or rebuild, depending on who you listen to, those picks are important pieces. Jori Lehtera is almost an afterthought.
Unfortunately for the Finn, he has been an afterthought. Lehtera has played in 14 of the Flyers 21 games and only recorded two assists.
He’s only averaging 10:58 in ice time too. That’s almost five minutes lower than his career average.
There is no doubt that Doug Armstrong pulled off the deal of the century as we know it right now. Those darft picks could swing things back in Philadelphia’s favor, but it is unlikely and we also will not know for several years.
Armstrong got exactly what he needed in the player coming to St. Louis. He also offloaded what had become an albatross contract.
The trade still seems puzzling. Even when it happened the people in Philadelphia were scratching their heads.
As Chris O’Connor said it in BroadstreetHockey.com, the move came out of the blue.
"The move came out of nowhere. There were no credible rumblings that Schenn was being shopped, and the Flyers aren’t dealing with salary cap issues. Schenn may be coming off an especially ineffective season at 5-on-5, but he remained fantastic on the power play, and was second on the team in goals with 25. He did not need to be moved."
Whatever precipitated the move, the Blues will surely take it. When you look at the comparison of the two players, the deal was a no-brainer.
You have to take the total numbers with a grain of salt since Schenn has so many more years in the league. However, the per game stats tell a pretty significant tale.
Schenn averages double the goals per game that Lehtera has. Assists are comparable, but Schenn almost double’s Lehtera’s shot numbers per game and that means more chances created.
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The really big difference comes when you look at point shares. Point shares are basically an estimated number of points contributed to a player’s time on the ice. It’s not plus/minus, but more if you contributed to a score with your defense or stopped one from being scored, you get credit.
Schenn’s career point share is 30.4. Lehtera’s is 9.8. You can analyze those different ways, but boiled down, Schenn contributes more points to his team with his play than Lehtera.
Schenn is off to the best start of his career. He’s also turned aside much of what was held against him during the deal. He’s been an all around player and a quality even strength threat.
A quarter though the 2017-18 season, he has 10 goals and 30 points. He’s on pace to set career highs in those categories.
Schenn also has eight of his 10 goals at even strength through 22 games. He had eight even strength goals all of last season.
You can contribute some of his success to his linemates, but he’s done plenty to raise their games as well. Through 22 games, only one line combination in the entire NHL has more points. Schenn has just been a man possessed and it’s been fun to watch.
On top of that, Armstrong has turned several fans into believers. You’ll never please all the people all the time, but in the eyes of the masses he definitely saved his job.
The cries of off with his head had not been heard this loudly outside of Alice in Wonderland, but fans were thirsty for blood when the Blues exited the playoffs and Armstrong was enemy number one. Suddenly due to his Midas touch on this one deal, fans are dreaming of silver chalices instead of lining the streets with torches.
Things can turn back the other way just as suddenly. For now, Armstrong is seen as a genius.
Overall, his batting average is average, but he’s got homerun power. The Schenn deal and the one that brought Kevin Shattenkirk to the team many years ago are grand slams at this point. The other ones not so much.
Armstrong is a solid GM that just has not been making the deal for the sake of dealing. That upsets some fans.
Thank goodness for this deal though. It has a long way to go before you can put it in that category, but one day we might mention this trade in the vein of the Lou Brock deal.