Schenn will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
I'm as sure of this as I am that Carlo Calaiacovo will get injured. While there is an abundance of defensemen competing for the two available positions (Kaberle, Kubina, Finger and Frogren will form the Leafs' top 4), Schenn will, at some point, stand-out from the majority of the group. Whether it's in training camp or mid-way through the season, as soon he joins the team he'll stay there for the remainder.
Before Schenn arrived, Anton Stralman was the Leafs' best defensive prospect. Now, however, things have changed. While Stralman is still shaping up to be a premium offensive defenseman, the Leafs haven't had a franchise caliber defender in quite some time.
I get the feeling that Fletcher, despite his claim that Schenn will have to "overwhelm", is going to have a tough time not including the six-foot-three, 215-pound Saskatoon native to the line-up. Schenn brings elements to the table that is comparable to the Canadiens' Mike Komisarek. He's mean, hits hard, clears the front of the net, and uses his huge frame to its fullest. While the Leafs have displayed solid defensemen in these past few years of mediocrity, Schenn's character, poise and style of play is exactly what they've been lacking. Not to mention someone on the blueline who is feared on the ice, making offenders think twice before crashing the net.
An aspect of Schenn's game that is overlooked are his offensive abilities. Schenn has progressively gotten better in the WHL, garnering a better PPG each season:
2005-06 WHL Season Kelowna Rockets 60 3 8 11 1 86
2006-07 WHL Season Kelowna Rockets 72 2 27 29 -10 139
2007-08 Regular Season Kelowna Rockets 57 7 21 28 5 100
If you look at his '07-08 season, he played 15 fewer games, scored one less point, but scored 5 more goals compared to his '06-07 campaign.
Schenn was dynamite in the WJC as well, being touted as the team's MVP by some. While he registered no points, his defensive play was exceptional (finished with a team-high +5 rating), showing why many scouts are projecting him as an "all-star defenseman".
When Schenn finds his way to the Leafs, placing him on the 2nd PP unit would be beneficial to his offensive development, and it wouldn't add to much pressure to the 18-year-old.
Looking at the Leafs' defensive core next season, it's not unrealistic for Schenn to find a prominent role with the club. While the Leafs have many defensemen at their disposal, the skill level is not exactly top notch, so if Schenn can find his groove in the NHL, he can place himself as the No.5 or No.6 defenseman. He won't have a lot of ice-time, but considering Fletcher doesn't want to rush him (that method hasn't proved successful for the Leafs), it would be logical to gradually merge him to the top 4. Another thing to consider is that the pressure on the Leafs is as low as ever this season - many fans are gunning for John Tavares - so Schenn shouldn't feel overwhelmed by the usual pressure that resides with Leafs Nation.
While I would enjoy nothing more than seeing him play all 82 games in the NHL, a more realistic scenario would see him joining the club in relief of injuries. If he plays to his level, it'll be difficult for Fletcher to send a player of his repertoire back down.
It will be an interesting story to follow this season, and for this particular Leafs fan, I think it'll end well.
What do you folks think?
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i think it would be great to see Schenn play this season in the big league. Defintly will earn a spot this season , and has the ability to compete at this level as he has already shown and will show again. Nice Komisarek comparision , actually very similar.
That's a reasonable prediction. I hope they keep him below the rookie threshold so he can compete for ROY honours next year when he is better developed and has the benefit of playing in perhaps 80-82 games.With Kaberle, Kubina, Finger, Van Ryn, Frogren and Stralman making up the top 6, it only makes sense that, after a healthy (insert sarcastic snicker here) Colaiacovo, Schenn is a more desirable call-up than White or Kronwall.
Good article, but I disagree with wanting him to be on the roster. I hope he stays in the minors, gets top minutes and plays in all situations. It won't hurt his career in any possible way, but bringing him up just might. I heard Ron Wilson explain on the radio that for Schenn to make the group he'd have to make the top 4. He explained his logic as young players have ups and downs and if he's your number 4 defense and he starts playing poorly you bump him down to 5 or 6 instead of the bench. Good logic. I just don't think he'll make it, he didn't overwhelm me at what I saw from the rookie tournament, but I'll wait for preseason to see. About comparing him to Komisarek it should be said, Komisarek didn't play a full season till he was 22-23. Any for many years I had to listen to Hab fans complain about how useless he was and that they should trade him for a bag of pucks. Finally he broke out last year and everyone loves him at age 26. I think we need to be realistic that Schenn might not be the impact player we want for up to another 7 years. Whats the rush really, to throw him on a losing team thats going nowhere. Marlies did well last year, maybe with Schenn they can win it all. Build up his confidence and self-esteem so when he makes mistakes in the Toronto spotlight it doesn't phase or ruin him.
toughhockeyfan: bang on. no need to rush him.
Schenn is one of the few things I like about the leafs Franchise at the moment.But I would not rush him to the Big leagues so fast. From what I've seen of him in the rookie Tourney in K-W thus far, he has not been exactly stellar or solid. The NHL is a whole new level and unless hes going to have a great impact on the leafs why waste a year of his rookie contract and possible mess with his development by rushing him?
Schenn will NOT be with the Maple leafs this season. He is going back to the Rockets. There is no sense bringing him in this year to get 5-6 D man minutes, when he is expected to be a 1-2 Dman. Plus the leafs would be better off keeping him there another year, possibly two (doubt two) to both continue his development with big minutes, and also in the salary cap era its better to hold off on this type until your in a better situation to compete and have him at a cheaper rate (his rookie contract) when you are back near playoff contention so you can field a better overall team.
TH - I see the logic in what you're saying and I'm not saying some more time in the WHL/Team Canada wouldn't help him. All I'm saying is that Fletcher did, in fact, leave the door open for the possibility of Schenn making the team.Again, I see your logic but if Schenn really does ''overwhelm'' (which I believe he will) he will be on the team. according to Fletcher. And as I stated in my blog, I think he'll reach that level..Is it the best thing for him? Maybe not. We can't say for sure until we a glimpse of his play in pre-season.
Does thee name Fred Boimstruck mean anything to you guys?
My guess is he plays the first 9 games, then is sent back to the rockets. (More than 9 games, he would have to be sent through waivers.)
Don't want him this season, one more season as a leader with the Rockets and Team Canada would be a bigger benifit to him then playing as a 5/6 guy on the leafs...dont rush him
I don't believe he has to clear waivers after 9 games but that it will start the clock counting on his Free Agent eligibilty. Meaning that Year 1 would start this season on his 3 year rookie deal. if they send him back to Junior, which they have to do he can't go to the AHL, then Year 1 wouldn't start until next season.And if they send him back to the WHL then he can only be called up as an Emergency Call Up, meaning that the Leafs would have to go thru a bunch of their D before they could call him up.
I saw this guy play at the prospects game in Edmonton last year and he was by far the best player on the ice. In my opinion he was better than Stamkos. Stamkos was a bit of a dissapointment for me but Schenn was unbelievable. The leafs got a great one when they drafted this kid. Whether he makes the team this year or not, leafs fan will enjoy seeing this guy play.
Hey Ron. Nice blog but i still disagree with the fact that Schenn will be playing this year. It's true the Leafs don't have much depth but they do have some of it. Guys like Stralman and Van Ryn will fill up the 5
Any Leaf fan will want something to feel good about this season, but I don't think this one will happen. It's great to hear all of the enthusiasm for Luke, and the anticipation that this was one of the better Leaf moves, but why spoil it by bringing him aboard too soon. Better look elsewhere for the "silver lining" like a 20-30 reduction in goals against - evidence that another good move was the hiring of Ron Wilson. This year will be a tough one for Leaf fans.
I'm surprised keeping Schenn up is being discussed as much as it is. The Leafs are rebuilding and will be so for a few years. One impact defenseman (if he develops into one) does not turn a franchise around so why even consider subjecting him to hard times and fast track his free agency status? Give him his final year in Junior, give him his year in the AHL and then move him up the depth chart. You bring a player up like that as the team turns the corner, getting the best possible use out of a top prospect. Traditionally the Leafs don't do that...Let's see if they have actually changed their philosophy...
it all depends on what he does in preseason obviously but if he doesnt stand out as a top four guy i would rather him have 25 mins a night on his junior team, then 5-10 on the leafs