Luke Schenn: Back with the Maple Leafs or gone in 2023-24?

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
10 months ago
The Maple Leafs made headlines at the trade deadline this year by acquiring a whopping six players. While Ryan O’Reilly and Jake McCabe stole most of the attention, there’s not a doubt in my mind that the coolest story was the re-acquisition of defenseman Luke Schenn. 
If you were watching the team pre-2010, you’ll remember the early days of Schenn and how he was supposed to be the saviour of the Maple Leafs’ defensive corps. Well, if there’s one way to ensure that your top defensive prospect doesn’t pan out, it’s by handling his development the way the Leafs did with Schenn’s. 
Drafted fifth overall in 2008, he made the Maple Leafs lineup out of training camp two months later when he probably should have been returned to the WHL for further development. He was thrust into a bad situation and relied on far too much to help a disastrous Leafs defense that needed way more than the services of an 18 year-old rookie. 
His over-usage early on in his career contributed to his inability to find his footing with the team, and he was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for James van Riemsdyk. Schenn’s career from that point featured stints with the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, two Cup runs with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a season and a half with the Vancouver Canucks, and of course, the trade that eventually brought him back to where it all began. Because who doesn’t like a nice storybook ending?
I haven’t even scratched the surface of how much Schenn brought to the team when they acquired him in March. Not only did he finish the season as the league leader in hits with 318 on the season, but he immediately found a home alongside a struggling Morgan Rielly, and allowed his new defensive partner to play his game more comfortably all while providing rock solid defense and a strong presence in front of his own net. He was only on the ice for two 5v5 goals against through the Maple Leafs’ entire playoff run, and his stability next to Rielly was worth the price to acquire him alone. 

Contract Projection: 2 years, $950,000 

It’s hard to gauge how much GMs around the league would be willing to pay him, but history has shown that physical, penalty-killing right-handed defensemen are typically a hot commodity in the summer. If there ends up being some sort of a bidding war, the Maple Leafs shouldn’t bend over backwards to bring him back. He is 33 years old, after all. 
That said, Schenn has expressed interest in returning to Toronto, and I’d imagine that his top priority is getting term somewhere, so his family doesn’t have to worry about packing up and moving somewhere each year. If they can bring him back on a two-year contract for under $1 million, I’d be putting pen to paper without a second thought if I’m Brad Treliving. He seems to get better with age, after all, and while it would be foolish to expect a performance as good as the one he brought in the playoffs for the next two years, he is absolutely capable of living up to a contract in the six figure range.

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