Aug 5, 2011, 12:29 PM EDT
This summer has been a rough one for restricted free agent defensemen. We’ve seen the trials and tribulations of Shea Weber‘s dealings with the Nashville Predators through arbitration and the Kings are still trying to work things out with Drew Doughty to come to a long term contract there. One guy who’s living life simply while dealing with the same process is Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn.
Schenn too is a restricted free agent and while there’s no threat of a team signing him to an offer sheet and stealing him away from Toronto, he’s not too worried about coming to terms with Toronto either. The Leafs have oodles of cap space to burn and Schenn is a guy that GM Brian Burke loves and wants to see grow into the next blue line force as a Maple Leaf.
James Mirtle of The Globe And Mail in Toronto spoke to Schenn and found that he’s not stressing out about things at all.
“There’s still lots of time until camp,” Schenn said on Thursday, taking a break from skating with some of the top 14- and 15-year-olds in the country as part of a new National Hockey League Players’ Association mentorship camp.
“There’s still a lot of players out there that haven’t signed yet. Obviously it’s going to get done a little bit later, but it’s all going to work out.”
Schenn added that he didn’t yet know whether he will be looking at a long-term deal, leaving the negotiations to his agent, Don Meehan.
“Honestly, I love playing in Toronto,” Schenn said. “I want to be part of the future going forward, be part of the reason things turn around here to get us into the postseason.”
Getting to the postseason is something the Leafs haven’t done since 2003-2004 and should Schenn be part of a team that does help them get back there and perhaps make a deep run at things, he’ll be even more of a fan favorite than he already is. At 21 years-old, Schenn is still developing as a defenseman and he’s already been a productive player for the Leafs. Last season, Schenn finished the year with five goals and 17 assists finishing with a career-high 22 points. Schenn also averaged the most time on ice of his career last season playing more than 22 minutes per game each night.
With his responsibilities increasing and his play improving as time goes on, he’s a key guy for Toronto to have on the blue line. While the Leafs’ depth there is strong, Schenn is counted on to be a big time contributor along with team captain Dion Phaneuf and up and comer Carl Gunnarsson. With the likes of Cody Franson and John-Michael Liles joining the team this season, the Leafs are loading up on defense. Keeping Schenn there for the foreseeable future is something that would work well for both sides.
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