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.
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
Here’s the Jurco goal:
Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:
Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.
The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.
The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.
Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:
The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.
Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.
The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.
(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)
While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.
Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?
Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.
He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.
(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.
While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.
With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.
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