Flyers Trade JVR to Toronto for Luke Schenn

Flyers Trade JVR to Toronto for Luke Schenn

After months of speculation, and a roller coaster couple of weeks in particular, finally James van Riemsdyk is no longer a Flyer. TSN's Darren Dreger reports the club has agreed to send their second overall pick from 2007 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Luke Schenn, brother of Brayden Schenn.

Both skaters were rumored to be on the block since prior to this past season's trade deadline, even for each other. As far back as January, reports linked Toronto and Philadelphia in talks regarding these two players, but at the time, Schenn was said to be part of a package deal for JVR. It appears the winger's stock may have fallen some, as the exchange here is one-for-one.

Neither player had a particularly strong showing in 2011-12, though van Riemsdyk clearly was hampered by a series of injuries. Likewise, some of Schenn's performance issues could maybe be traced to playing on an awful team with a supporting cast that leaves something to be desired. Perhaps a change of scenery will be good for both, while simultaneously filling positional needs on both benches.

JVR obviously has tons of potential, though it's not quite been met so far. That said, shipping him out now seems to say less about his ability than it does about the Flyers' immediate needs. Loaded with young talent at forward, van Riemsdyk and his six-year, $25.5 million contract were the right combination of being the most expendable and easiest to move.

It's no secret the Flyers have been searching for blue-line depth, and the likelihood of landing a big fish D-man via free agency appeared slim. The front office hopes Schenn, 23 this November, will help fill that hole. Listed at 6-2, 215 lbs., the fifth overall pick in the '08 Draft is entering NHL season number five, and still has a ton of room to grow -- especially gaining experience alongside of seasoned veterans such as Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, and Nick Grossmann.

Schenn's cap hit is $3.6 million, and he's signed through 2015-16. At that price, the swap also frees up a bit more cap room as FA approaches on July 1. With the Flyers, it's usually safe to say more additions are on the way.

Observers were often divided over JVR. He flashed some absolutely dominant performances during the 10-11 playoff run, and while he has yet to demonstrate that level of play on a consistent basis, he's just 23. The numbers tell a different story, that he has the tendency to disappear, and has not developed into an intimidating physical presence.

However, Schenn figures to immediately take his place as one of the most scrutinized members of the team. The Flyers are banking on him gaining fans with crushing hits, and being part of a defensive revolution while injecting some welcomed youth on the back end. Others will view the return for JVR as less than a home run at best, uncertain at worst.

Regardless, it's not difficult to understand GM Paul Holmgren's line of thinking here: trade from depth to acquire a need. It's only natural to have some mixed feelings. There is a distinct possibility van Riemsdyk becomes a monster, another distinct possibility that Schenn is not the answer for the Flyers. Of course, that's the inherent risk involved in most transactions.

While I for one am sad to see James go, and will go so far to say I believe he will be an All Star one day, I'm not going to fall under the temptation to evaluate this deal today. Consider this is a fresh start for Luke Schenn. As long as the front office is able to get Matt Carle under contract, or find a suitable replacement, I'll be comfortable with the current direction of the Flyers defensemen.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall scored a team-high 19 points -- including five dunks -- and Kris Jenkins added 15, as No. 2 Villanova pulled away late to beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, and clinch the 2017 Big East Conference regular-season title outright.

Paschall, starting during Darryll Reynolds’ injury absence, shot 8 for 12 from the field and added six rebounds.

Creighton’s last lead was 45-43 six minutes into the second half, but a Paschall slam and Jenkins’ first three after five misses sparked a 16-4 run that gave the Wildcats a 59-49 lead with 8½ minutes left. Creighton got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Paschall’s career high is a 31-point game for Fordham against NYIT on Nov. 14, 2014.

Villanova again struggled from three-point range but had tremendous success attacking the basket, especially in the second half of the final game at the Pavilion for two years.

The Wildcats shot just 17 percent from three (3 for 18) but 69 percent from two (24 for 35) and repeatedly got to the foul line in the second half, when they were 14 for 18.

Jenkins again struggled from three (1 for 7) yet still finished with 15 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.

Josh Hart shot 7 for 11 for 16 points and added seven rebounds and three assists.

Villanova opened a streaky first half by taking a 7-0 lead, but Creighton hit four straight threes in less than two minutes and led by three. Villanova then went on a 17-2 run and led by as many as 10 points before Creighton finished the half on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 33.

There were seven lead changes in the first seven minutes of the second half, but Villanova finally pulled away and outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes.

Mikal Bridges added 11 points and eight rebounds for Villanova, while Jalen Brunson had nine points and three assists.

Freshman Dante DiVincenzo came off the bench to contribute nine points and four rebounds for Villanova.

What it means
Villanova improved to 27-3 overall and 14-3 in the Big East, clinching the conference title outright. Entering play Saturday, only Villanova or Butler was in position to win the conference title, with Villanova holding a magic number of one.

Villanova, which lost to Butler on Wednesday, has now won 12 straight games immediately following losses (15 if you carry over to the next year).

The Wildcats last lost consecutive games at the end of the 2012-2013 season, when they fell to Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals and to North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Creighton fell to 22-7 overall and 9-7 in the Big East. The Bluejays are 4-6 since an 18-1 start.

Stat of the day
Marcus Foster had 25 points and eight assists, becoming the first player with 25 points and five assists against Villanova since Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds (and five steals) in a 93-72 win over Villanova on Feb. 28, 2011, at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana.

Turning point 
Villanova led by one at 48-47 when Jenkins finally buried a three for a four-point lead.

Moving out
This was Villanova’s last game at the Pavilion for about 20 months. Villanova will play most of its home games at the Wells Fargo Center next year while renovations are made to the Pavilion.

Villanova is 293-62 all-time at the Pavilion, which opened in 1985. That includes a 131-12 mark since the start of the 2004-2005 season.

By the numbers
Khyri Thomas scored 17 points for the Bluejays … Creighton was 7 for 14 from three in the first half but 4 for 13 in the second half … Villanova has won six straight against Creighton since a 101-80 loss in February 2014 when Doug McDermott scored 39 … Reynolds, Villanova’s second-leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, sat out a fifth straight game with a rib injury.  

What's next
Villanova has a week off before facing Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington at noon Saturday. Georgetown is 14-15 overall and 5-11 in the Big East.