Photo Credit: Aaron Doster/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs might be done at the draft, but that doesn’t mean they’re finished taking care of business in Buffalo. Shortly after the last selection was made, the blue and white finished off a deal which sent Scott Harrington and a conditional draft pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for 21-year-old forward Kerby Rychel.
Rychel was drafted 19th overall by the Blue Jackets in 2013. Born in California but raised in Southern Ontario, he split his time between the Blue Jackets and Lake Erie Monsters this season, scoring 27 points in 37 AHL games and 9 in 32 with the big club. Part of the reason for Rychel’s lower production with the big club was the lack of opportunity he was given; the 21-year-old averaged just nine and a half minutes per game.
Rychel’s possession numbers were also on the weaker end this year, with a -2.0% CF Rel, but he started the bulk of his shifts in the defensive zone. He was a part of the Lake Erie Monsters team that won this year’s Calder Cup but played in a more limited role to make room for Columbus’ more valued prospects.
After all, his departure had been a long time coming. Rychel made a trade request at the beginning of the season as he didn’t feel he was given the opportunity to succeed in the Blue Jackets organization.
Heading back the other way is Scott Harrington. The Leafs acquired the 22-year-old defenceman less than a year ago in the Phil Kessel trade, and while he looked like a potentially useful project in the pre and early season, he ultimately moved down to the Marlies for the sake of his development. Harrington struggled to show up on the scoresheet in his 15 games with the team, putting up just three points before suffering an upper-body injury which ended his season in early January.
Toronto also gives up a 5th round pick if Harrington were to not make the Blue Jackets, get placed on waivers, and get subsequentially claimed.
Overall, this looks like a very good opportunity for the Maple Leafs. Rychel is a bit of a project, but has waiver eligibility for a few more years and might be willing to accept further development in an organization with a different plan in place. If he pans out, the Leafs will be getting a decent sized, feisty winger who can dish around the puck.