September 16, 2011
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free-agent defenseman Luke Schenn(notes) have agreed on a new 5-year deal the night before camp begins; and "while exact details of the deal are not known, it is believed that Schenn will earn approximately $3.6 million per season."
Is Luke Schenn a $3.6 million-a-year player?
He's 21 years old and skated 22:22 per game on average, including a team-leading 2:44 average ice time on the penalty kill in 82 games. He led the Leafs with 251 hits and 168 blocked shots. He's been chatted up as a better, more respected leader than the current captain.
So yeah, he's a $3.5 million-a-year player, especially when you factor in that this contract eats up a year of unrestricted free agency. And the players in his price range ... well, you'd take Schenn over a couple of them, for sure.
The best comparison to Schenn, contractually, might be Marc Staal(notes) of the New York Rangers, who signed a 5-year deal last September with an annual cap hit of $3.975 million. Staal was more accomplished then than Schenn is now, having played 202 consecutive games for the Rangers and having already blossomed into one of the NHL's better shutdown defensemen. So Schenn slots in behind him and above, say, Zach Bogosian(notes) (2 years, $5 million).
Chemmy included Staal in his comparisons to Schenn this week on The Leafs Nation, expecting a deal near $3.25 million annually (close!) and ruling out the much-rumored $4 million cap hit for Schenn's deal:
It takes a lot for a d-man to crack the $4M barrier: he needs to be a recognized, elite UFA, Norris candidate, or just score a lot. I love Luke Schenn as a player but I just don't see his pricetag being that high.
It wasn't. Question is, if Schenn continues to progress and mature into a premiere defensive defenseman in the NHL, how smart is Brian Burke going to look for locking him in (a) long-term and (b) for a very reasonable cap hit?
Kid can hit: