Last but not least, Luke Schenn contract talks are set to begin later this week. Brian Burke and player agent Don Meehan confirmed discussions are ready to begin as the off-season nears the second half of month number one.
“Certainly no later than by the end of next week,” Don Meehan said on Tuesday. “I know we will start soon.”
The Leafs have committed their time over the last few weeks to signing what they hope to be their new number one centerman in Tim Connolly, inking depth forward Philipe Dupuis, and bringing back several bottom six notables from last season including Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb. Toronto also struck a surprising deal with the Nashville Predators by shipping out phenom blueliner Brett Lebda and rising prospect Robert Slaney in exchange for the injured Matthew Lombardi and high-potential defenceman Cody Franson.
With arbitration meetings upcoming, the Leafs are now ready to commit their time on extending defenceman Luke Schenn with a pay raise from last season's $2.9M earnings. Schenn completed his third season with the Leafs matching his career high in goals (5), and bettering his career bests in assists (17) and points (22). He also finished among the top ten in hits on the year.
Schenn was a force on the Leafs back end last season, and while he punished his opponents and provided solid coverage in the Leafs defensive zone, he managed to execute his game without taking many penalties and finished the year with only 34 PIM, down 16PIM from his second season, and 37PIM from his rookie campaign. To say to least, Schenn has clearly become a more intelligent hockey player as he continues to grow in talent.
Currently Toronto has 25 players under contract for next season and are resting at approximately $4.5M under the $64.3M salary cap. Using Schenn's contract for last season, which was laced with bonuses, should be a guide moving forward and I would expect his terms to fall in the three to five year mark for around $3.5M per season.
A great comparisson mark for this contract is New York Rangers defenceman, Marc Staal.
Staal inked a 3.975M per season contract with the New York Rangers last summer and posted 7 goals and 29 points last season. While Staal does not possess the same defensive skills as Schenn, his offensive capabilities have allowed him to command nearly $4M per season, and while Schenn has begun to show he can be a decent presence on the powerplay, his ever-improving skillset has not suggested he is ready for full-time powerplay minutes.
That said, there is one significant contract that stands in the way between the Leafs and Schenn that could certainly influence where the chips may fall - Mike Komisarek.
Komisarek inked, what is not considered, a ridiculous $4.5M per season contract with the Leafs two summers ago. Since then, he has fallen in talent and ability and is now considered the Leafs 7th defenceman for the upcoming year.
Last season, the incredible Komisarek finished the year with a -8, alongside 1 goal and 10 points in 75 outings. For anyone to even begin to try and justify his contract, Luke Schenn in comparisson should get the league max.
As such, the contract discussions will definitely be interesting and his contract could very well be surprising when it's all said and done.