Alright, here we go! As the scouting world shifts its gaze to the NHL Combine, which kicks off today in Toronto, this will signal the beginning of the home stretch for this year’s crop of draft hopefuls. The draft itself may be just two days long, but the process and preparation for it will include hundreds upon hundreds of viewing hours for the scouts, and months of training for the players.
As has been the case for most of this season, rookie defenseman Luke Schenn was one of the lone brights spots as the Toronto Maple Leafs came away with yet another disappointing result on Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. Schenn logged nearly 25 minutes of ice-time, 4 minutes on the PK, recorded an assist, made a brilliant defensive play on the Kovalchuk near-breakaway and threw in a couple of resounding hits for good measure. Among the 4 defensemen who logged 20+ minutes of ice-time (Kubina, Kaberle, Schenn, White), Luke was the only one not to finish with a minus rating.
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*Sunday Morning Update: Nothing ground-breaking here, but Fletcher told me via e-mail this morning that there were no new developments in Friday’s meeting between himself, Mats Sundin and agent J.P Barry. “Mats is going to take his time.” It’s expected that Fletcher clarified his position by reaffirming that Sundin was welcome back, with a reported $7 million, 1 year deal still on the table. Alex Tran will be checking in with his first blog sometime today.
*Update: Cliff Fletcher just reported to me via e-mail that getting Luke Schenn under contract is “not necessarily” his next focus.
Two more highly-coveted young defenseman out of the 2008 draft class – Alex Pietrangelo (4th overall) and Zach Bogosian (3rd overall) – have been inked to entry level deals by their respective teams today. Los Angeles’ second overall pick Drew Doughty put pen to paper back in late August.
Cliff Fletcher’s inference earlier in the summer was that he was waiting to evaluate the contracts of the other defensemen in the top half of Luke Schenn’s draft class before proceeding to sign the Kelowna Rockets rearguard. With salary and performance bonuses now counting towards a player’s cap figure under new NHL legislation, teams must be fastidious when constructing bonus structures.
One through four are locked up, five is on the clock.