After two days of the rest, the Toronto Maple Leafs return to action tonight. They’ll be hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre in one of their final home games of the season.
The two teams have only met once so far this season – a 3-1 victory for the Leafs on the road – but the team that the Leafs will be facing tonight is vastly different from the one they beat earlier this season.
Philadelphia has slowly crawled its way up the standings after a dismal start to the season. They currently sit two points back of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference, holding sixth place. For its part, Toronto has also been on the rise lately and now holds the conference’s fourth spot.
Toronto’s impressive home record of 21-11-1 will be one obstacle in Philadelphia’s way if they’re hoping for a win tonight. Another obstacle will be former Flyers member James van Riemsdyk, who always relishes playing against his old team.
Van Riemsdyk joined the Leafs in 2011-2012 after being traded by the Flyers to Toronto for defenceman Luke Schenn – a trade that might be fairly considered the best of Brian Burke’s work while general manager of the Leafs.
Playing alongside Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel, van Riemsdyk has flourished in Toronto. He’s already set a career high in points this season – he has 52 points (26 goals, 26 assists) in 61 games – and at the tender age of 24, it seems fair to say that the Leafs can expect a lot more from him going forward. Schenn, on the other hand, is largely an afterthought in Philadelphia, claiming one of the bottom spots on the team’s depth chart.
In other words, Toronto walked away from the trade with a first-line winger while Philadelphia took a chance on a defenceman who so far hasn’t lived up to his potential.
It’s a shame that things haven’t exactly worked out for Schenn. He must be commended for his generous community work in Toronto and he always enjoyed the benefit of a strong fan base here. There was even some talk that he should be given the captaincy over Dion Phaneuf before being trade to Philadelphia.
If you look at Schenn on paper, he has the size and minor league credentials of someone special. Hopefully, it all comes to fruition for him one day.
For the moment, however, I’m happy with the Leafs winning the trade and I hope that it once again becomes apparent tonight.
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