PITTSBURGH - In a trade that was rumored since last season, the Flyers dealt left winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for rugged defenseman Luke Schenn on Saturday.
Schenn, 22, will be reunited with his brother, Brayden, a 20-year-old Flyers center.
We're pretty close," Luke Schenn said in a conference call with reporters. "It's surreal right now. It's hard to describe how cool this is."
The younger Schenn "couldn't believe it," Luke Schenn said. "He told me it was a dream come true. It's hard to comprehend right now."
On Twitter, Brayden Schenn wrote: "Gunna miss playing with @JVReemer21 great guy. Now get a chance to play with the bro! Happy day in the Schenn household!"
Luke Schenn, a 6-foot-2, 229-pounder who gives the Flyers some much-needed physicality - and is potentially a shutdown defenseman - has four years remaining on a deal that has an annual cap hit of $3.6 million.
The trade was made after the Flyers selected four defensemen among their seven picks during the draft in Pittsburgh. General manager Paul Holmgren finalized the deal with Brian Burke, his counterpart with the Maple Leafs.
"It was something in the wintertime that Brian and I discussed in theory, and then I think we both decided to just table it," Holmgren said as he boarded a plane in Pittsburgh. "It came up again [Friday] and we talked about it. I believe it's a good trade for both teams."
Asked if he felt he was replacing the injured Chris Pronger, Schenn said, "I wouldn't ever compare myself to Chris Pronger. He's obviously going to be in the Hall of Fame."
Holmgren said the deal filled "a need" for both sides and called it a "win-win."
"We tried to improve our D and we did today," said Holmgren, who has maintained confidence he will re-sign prospective free-agent defenseman Matt Carle.
Schenn, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, gives the Flyers a righthanded-shooting defenseman and someone who "plays physical and gritty and can move the puck," Holmgren said, adding that the Saskatchewan native "seemed very excited about a new chapter in his life."
In four years with Toronto, Schenn had 14 goals and 61 assists, including two goals and 20 assists last season.
Van Riemsdyk, 23, who grew up in Central Jersey, had an injury-filled season and never regained the scoring touch that produced seven goals in 11 playoff games in 2011. He has six seasons left on a contract that has a yearly $4.25 million cap hit.
Drafted with the second overall pick (behind Chicago's Patrick Kane) in 2007, van Riemsdyk never reached his potential with the Flyers. He scored 15 goals as a rookie, 21 goals in his second year, and 11 goals in 43 games last season.
Holmgren said he thinks the soft-spoken winger known as JVR "will become a very good player in our league. Unfortunately for us, I think it'll be for Toronto now."
Van Riemsdyk recently had hip surgery delayed because of an infection in his foot. Doctors later decided the surgery was not needed, and the Flyers said the power forward would be 100 percent healthy for the start of training camp in September.
In a statement, Burke said van Riemsdyk would bring "speed, size, and finesse to our top two lines."
Dealing van Riemsdyk means the Flyers figure to pursue another winger. Holmgren said the trade doesn't shut the door on another deal, but van Riemsdyk had been mentioned in talks involving Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Columbus' Rick Nash.
Free agency starts next Sunday, and the Flyers are expected to make a pitch for New Jersey left winger Zach Parise.