The Los Angeles Kings will regret trading young center Brayden Schenn despite winning the Stanley Cup last season.
Following the 2010-11 season, the Philadelphia Flyers surprisingly traded captain Mike Richards to the Kings for Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
Both teams decided to take a chance by making this deal, and even though the Kings have enjoyed more success as a team since making this move, the Flyers will likely end up winning the trade.
You can argue that the Kings won't regret trading the 21-year-old forward because Richards helped the team win its first ever Stanley Cup last year, but if Schenn was part of Los Angeles' roster in 2011-12 instead of Richards, the team still could have competed for a championship.
Richards was a good player for the Kings at both ends of the ice last season, but his offensive production dropped considerably as well.
If he doesn't improve this season (assuming the lockout ends) and does not play at a 60-65 point level for the next several years, the Kings are going to have a problem. Richards' contract has eight years and $45 million left on it. If the salary cap ceiling goes down in the next CBA, which at the moment seems like a near-certainty, the Kings could be in trouble if Richards' production doesn't match his high salary-cap hit.
Schenn has to wait six more years to become an unrestricted free agent if the UFA age stays the same as it was in the previous CBA. If the NHL is successful in limiting the amount of money that players receive with their second contracts in the new CBA, keeping Schenn would definitely have been much less expensive than adding Richards.
Instead of having a young and talented center like Schenn to include in an already impressive core of players, the Kings have three centers in Richards, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter who have cap hits of over $5 million for at least four more seasons.
As for Schenn's on-ice performance, it's a bit unfair to make any judgements about his play thus far because injuries have prevented him from showing what he can give the Flyers over a full season.
Here are his NHL stats so far:
Schenn began to show signs of brilliance during the Flyers' playoff run last season. He's a gifted playmaker, a hard worker and also has the ability to score goals on a consistent basis. His offensive skills are impressive, but he also plays a physical game and suits the Flyers' style of play very well.
It's not hard to see why the Kings selected him with the fifth pick in the 2009 NHL draft.
If he reaches his full potential, Schenn will give the Flyers another No. 1 center (along with superstar Claude Giroux) to build around for the future.
The Kings have certainly benefited in the short term following the Schenn trade, but they will ultimately regret making the deal over the next few seasons when Schenn and Simmonds becomes quality top-six forwards and Lombardi has little salary cap flexibility to make needed changes to his roster.