By now you probably heard that Luke Schenn’s agent, Don Meehan, thinks that he’ll be talking to the Leafs about a contract extension in the “near future.”Â Â While he may not be an offensive machine (I believe there is still some upside there), at 23 21, he has blossomed into one of the leagues best shutdown defensemen. As you all know, Luke Schenn is our only remaining restricted free agent. Schenn led the team in both hits and blocked shots with 251 and 168 respectively.
While itâ€™s rather difficult to find Schennâ€™s comparable in terms of age and salary in the NHL right now, when we think of names like Brent Seabrook, Brooks Orpik or Zbynek Michalek who play similar roles on their teams and can be looked at in terms of pure value itâ€™s likely Schenn will be earning around 3.5 to 3.8 million per annum on his next NHL contract.
Contrary to popular belief, or Santaâ€™s Christmas wish list of other NHL teams, key free agents arenâ€™t really that hard to sign. Of course, if by hard you mean a somewhat long negotiation process that inevitably takes place when signing a player of Schennâ€™s caliber, then yes, negotiations are hard. On the other hand, if youâ€™re talking about the willingness of that player to stay in a rather healthy, improving environment, one he was drafted in, then Iâ€™m afraid the thought process has to be different. Then, things become a lot less complicated.
Take Stamkos for example, no offersheets and no wonder Steve Yzerman looked confident, calm when talking about re-signing him. Stamkos looks like a player of good character, he repeatedly said he was very happy to play for Boucher (and Yzerman, who IS an important variable) and isnâ€™t crazy about leaving a place heâ€™s comfortable in, not to mention a place that looks like it can regularly compete for the Stanley Cup in the coming years. Not only that but it can easily be argued he took a â€œhometownâ€ discount when re-signing.
You can easily apply the same logic regarding Luke Schenn. Why? Well for one thing, Schenn was with Burke in Afghanistan. To me, that speaks about a bond that exists between the GM and one of his cornerstone players. And is Toronto ready to compete? The players seem to think so. Are we improving as a hockey team? No question. Burke took days off before even thinking about entering the negotiations which displays the same confidence levels about a deal thatâ€™s very much imminent.
So, is Schenn, the guy who weâ€™ve all been watching for the past three seasons, the first Leafs selection (5th overall) in the 2008 NHL entry draft willing to turn his back on a bright future with the club he, for all intents and purposes, loves? Maybe, but only on a certain NHL teamâ€™s Christmas wish list.