PHILADELPHIA - After loading up on defensemen in the draft, the Philadelphia Flyers got one to help right away.
The Flyers acquired Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward and Middletown, N.J., native James van Riemsdyk on Saturday. The 22-year-old Schenn should help replace the void created by the loss of captain Chris Pronger, who is unlikely to return because of post-concussion symptoms.
"He's a young guy, he's a big defenseman that plays physical and gritty, and he can move the puck," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "To get guys like this, you've got to be picking high in the draft. It's an opportunity for us and obviously James was taken high in the draft, too."
Schenn had 14 goals and 61 assists in four seasons for Toronto.
"I wouldn't ever compare myself to Chris Pronger. He's obviously going to be in the Hall of Fame," Schenn said.
Schenn is the older brother of Flyers forward Brayden Schenn. Luke Schenn was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft.
"He couldn't believe it. He told me it was a dream come true," Luke Schenn said of his brother's reaction. "It's hard to comprehend right now."
Brayden Schenn called it a "happy day in the Schenn household!" on Twitter.
Van Riemsdyk, also 22, has 47 goals and 52 assists for 99 points in three seasons. He was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft. Van Riemsdyk had seven goals in 11 games in the 2011 playoffs, but only played 43 games last year because of injuries. He had 11 goals and 13 assists.
"I believe it's a good trade for both teams," Holmgren said. "It certainly fills a need for us and I think it fills a need for (Toronto) as well in terms of what they're looking to do."
Van Riemsdyk said he has mixed emotions about the trade.
"The Philadelphia organization has treated me well," he told The Globe and Mail of Toronto. "But at the same time, going to play in Toronto is really exciting for me. The tradition they have there, the city, the fans, it's all unbelievable. Growing up a big time Yankees fan, it's kind of like playing for the New York Yankees of the NHL. I'm definitely looking forward to getting everything going."
The Leafs were looking to add size up front. Getting the 6-foot-3, 200-pound van Riemsdyk fulfills that goal.
"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," Leafs GM Brian Burke said in a statement.
Improving on defense was Philadelphia's goal heading into Draft Weekend. They chose four defenseman on Day 2. The Flyers took Shayne Gostisbehre out of Union College in the third round and Fredric Larsson from the Swedish Junior League in the fourth. They finished by choosing Reece Wilcox from Merritt of the BCHL in the fifth round and Valeri Vasiliev of the Russian Junior League in the seventh round.
"We tried to improve our defense over the last few days, we looked for ways to try to improve it, and we think we did today," Holmgren said.
In Round 1, the Flyers selected center Scott Laughton with the 20th overall pick Friday night. They took goaltender Anthony Stolarz of Jackson Township, N.J. from Corpus Christi of the North American Hockey League in the second round and left wing Taylor Leier from Portland of the WHL in the fourth.
While getting Schenn upgrades the team's blue line, losing van Riemsdyk will hurt offensively. The Flyers could target New Jersey's Zach Parise in free agency to bolster the offense.
"I don't think anything shuts the door on anything else we may look to do to improve the hockey team," Holmgren said.