(Note: Later, this same arbitration mechanism would cost the Leafs Peter Zezel and Grant Marshall in the Mike Craig signing.)
Nylund would play well in Chicago. He never had to carry the load and he settled down and became fairly reliable. Further knee injuries in the early 1990s eventually did him in and he went on to become a decorated firefighter out in BC.
Having seen all of this with Nylund, it was kind of instructive to see a lot of it unfold again with Schenn. The key difference, in my eyes, is that while both Nylund and Schenn were seen as still having value, it was the modern Leafs that actually managed to capitalize on it. This time, the Leafs actually got the young forward they wanted and made the deal of their choosing instead of the deal they were stuck with. I had hoped that the career arc would be better this time, but what wound up happening was that it wasn't the player who was handled so much better, but rather his exit.
Like Nylund, Schenn will probably be better out of Toronto than in it, primarily because of the change in expectations. In Philly, he's not the high pick and he won't be expected to carry everything on his back at 22. He'll be part of a team that hopefully supports him better and he'll be more able to hide.
I think the biggest problem for both Schenn and Nylund was the expectations that come out of their draft position compared to the impact of the actual skill set they possessed. I think that one of the biggest lessons to be learned is that a high pick almost has to be spent on acquiring top-end offensive talent. A top-five pick has to be an impact player and a defense-only presence doesn't really offer that in a truly measurable way. Whether one considers Schenn to be good at defense or bad at defense, he certainly wasn't good at offense and that's a killer problem for a high pick, particularly when you can get defense further down in the draft. If Schenn had been drafted where a Matt Finn was, he'd have been granted a lot more patience and his failings would have been more readily anticipated and accepted. You might not get Luke Schenn himself that far down in the draft, but you can get someone to do his job.
So while neither the Schenn nor Nylund experiments can really be called a success as both were out after just four seasons, the Leafs did manage to turn this situation into something they actually wanted, and in that sense, they finally got the Nylund pick right.
Good luck Luke, and better luck JVR.
(Burke commentary because I pretty much have to: I can't really defend his performance and if the team stumbled at all he was gone anyway. I hate the timing because there was enough uncertainty already and this doesn't help. I hope it works out for the best because what other option do I have? I don't want another lost season.)