Syvret (career stats) has always looked too small at the NHL level, and also seemed to have insufficient offensive upside to make up for it. Of course, he was thrown to the wolves during his 06-07 call-up, as there was very little opportunity to look good with a team that disappeared down the stretch.
This last season he was thrown to the Bears (haha) in Hershey after a very poor start for Kelly Buchberger's Falcons. He was also loaned to Team Canada for the Spengler Cup, and might be the player whose career took the biggest nosedive with Buchberger in charge. He recovered quite a bit playing for Hershey, putting up 12 points in 27 games. Nonetheless, he was well down the depth chart, and his future with the Oilers was pretty much non-existent.
Ryan Potulny (career stats) brings decent size and a history of scoring in the minor leagues to the Oilers. According to Hockey's Future, he was the 6th-ranked prospect for the Flyers. His ranking (7.0C) would put him 8th on the Oilers prospect depth chart, in a tie with defenseman Cody Wild. Here is his talent analysis, again courtesy of Hockey's Future:
Potulny is a gifted offensive player with good hands, acceleration, and lateral movement. He demonstrates incredible playmaking skills, as well as the innate ability to score timely goals. In College, Potulny was easily one of Minnesota’s most dynamic players when healthy, and fans quickly began to expect big plays out of him. Also a very good face-off guy, Potulny looks to have all the skills needed to excel at any level. He is responsible at both ends of the rink, backchecking with effectiveness and taking care of the puck in his own end.
This really seems like a steal from an Oilers perspective, and Potulny sounds like a guy who's going to fit in seamlessly on any kind of MacTavish-coached team. The fans on the Flyers side of HFBoards seem to be unsurprised, and also seem to feel this trade reflects the fact that Potulny simply wasn't going to get an opportunity given the forward depth of the Flyers. This fits with what I've read elsewhere. This trade raises some serious questions, though:
1) Is Potulny expected to challenge for a spot with the Oilers in camp, or was he acquired as a minor league scorer?
2) If he's expected to compete for an NHL job, which players will he displace?
3) Given that Kevin Lowe has already stated the team has "too many bodies" up front, is this a precursor to a larger trade, one that will send a package of players out?
4) How does this affect Rob Schremp? (Just kidding!)
My guesses, based on what I've read- Potulny is probably ready to compete for an NHL job in the same way as guys like Jacques, Schremp, etc., and this trade hurts the fringe guys the most. I'm also guessing he was acquired partially to see if he can replace some of the things Curtis Glencross brought to the team; if he does land a spot in the NHL that would be the place, in my opinion, or as 13th/14th forward.
Finally, I don't think we can read too much into this trade regarding a quantity-for-quality deal; it was simply an excellent return on a player who was going to be leaving the organization one way or another. An excellent move by Kevin Lowe.
Update: Dan Tencer's blog has comments from Kevin Prendergast on the trade today; mostly to the effect that Syvret wasn't a fit in the organization, but that the Oilers weren't prepared to let him leave for nothing. Apparently two teams in addition to Philly were interested in Syvret, but Potulny was the best player offered.