‘Toronto has always felt like home’: Can the Maple Leafs afford to keep Luke Schenn?

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 year ago
After a long-awaited 11 years since being traded by the team who drafted him 5th overall back in the 2008 NHL draft, Luke Schenn was acquired ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline from the Vancouver Canucks, thus beginning his second stint with the Maple Leafs organization.
The 33-year-old Saskatoon native had a pretty up-and-down NHL career in the late 2010s before becoming a mainstay on an NHL roster for the last three seasons with the Lightning, Canucks and now, the Maple Leafs.
The “human eraser” – a nickname given to Luke Schenn for his execution of hits along the boards or in open ice and erasing people out of the play – was part of the reason why a massive amount of this fan base was happy to see him wear the Maple Leaf again for the first time since 2012 when he was just 23 years old.
In just 15 regular season games with the Maple Leafs this past season, Schenn recorded just one point, which was a goal he scored against the Lightning in the second last game of the season.
He also suited up for all 11 playoff games for the team and picked up a single assist in the process which was in game two of the second round against the Panthers. And although he only recorded two points in 26 games between the regular season and the playoffs, Schenn did a lot of other stuff that helped benefit the team.
As we all know, he wasn’t afraid to throw his body around along the boards, in open ice, step in front of shots and block them, as well as clearing out the front of the net. He was a tremendous addition to this team.
However, Schenn was in the last year of his deal when Toronto acquired him from Vancouver, and now that the season is over, come the questions like, will he stay? Does he want to stay? What could a potential extension for him even look like?
Well, yesterday, Luke spoke to the media during Toronto’s end-of-season media availability and had some things to say about returning to Toronto and wearing the blue and white again.
“I loved every minute of it.” [returning to Toronto] Luke Schenn said, per David Alter of Sports Illustrated.
“Toronto has always felt like home, in a lot of ways.” Schenn also said to the media, “I think the culture here is as good as anywhere I’ve ever played.” per Chris Johnston of TSN and NorthStar Bets.
It’s not a secret that he has enjoyed and embraced every moment since returning to Toronto ahead of the trade deadline, and a potential contract extension could maybe be on the table for him to return to the team who once drafted him 15 years ago, however, there are a lot of questions still up in the air this off-season and could the Maple Leafs even afford him?
Well, Schenn’s coming off of a two-year deal that the Canucks signed him to which saw him carry a cap hit of $850K. The contracts before this two-year deal were three consecutive one-year deals that were either worth $700K or $800K, so if we’re going to be talking about a potential extension for him here in Toronto, there’s a strong case that he deserves a raise from the $850K he just made, but also a strong case he could take a similar deal and make under $1M on a multi-year deal, kind of like what Mark Giordano did last off-season when he signed a two-year extension with Toronto which carried a cap hit of $800K.
One comparison I’d like to look at for any potential Schenn contract is former Maple Leaf defenseman Zach Bogosian, who, after signing a one-year deal worth $1M with Toronto for the 2020-21 season, walked in the off-season and returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning on a three-year deal worth $2.55M ($850K AAV).
Now, Schenn could take that exact contract or even just sign for two years like the contract he signed with Vancouver ahead of the 2021-22 season, or he could ask for a little more than $850K per year and make north of $900K, who knows?
However, I feel like the ballpark area of a potential extension could be anywhere from a one-year deal to a three-year deal like Bogosian and the AAV could range anywhere from $850K to potentially $1M if he signs a one-year contract and the Maple Leafs think he deserves a little raise, although they’d rather save as much as they can against the cap with a lot of other players up for a contract and both Auston Matthews and William Nylander eligible for an extension this July 1st.
What I’m trying to say is, I don’t think Luke Schenn will cost too much for Toronto to keep his services, especially if UFA defenseman Justin Holl walks in free agency. If that happens, Schenn is re-signed and no one on the blue line is traded, the Maple Leafs blue line will consist of Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Jake McCabe, Timothy Liljegren, Mark Giordano, Luke Schenn and Conor Timmins. Timmins – if you forgot – signed a two-year contract extension with Toronto back in February which carries a cap hit of $1.1M.
(Stats from NHL.com)
(Contract details from PuckPedia.com)

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