It's hard to believe that Schenn is only 18 years old - he'll be able to buy a beer on November 2nd - and still has a year of junior hockey eligibility. He's only a boy, but at 6'2" and 216 pounds, he plays a man's game.
I'm not a big fan of the pre-season, unlike my blogging colleague JaredOfLondon, so I didn't catch much of the Leafs' first four games last week. However, now that the Toronto Blue Jays' season is officially over and I've had a good cry over the fact that we missed the playoffs again and will probably lose A.J. Burnett to free agency, I can give the Leafs my undivided attention. They deserve nothing less.
Anyway, I tuned in last night, and Schenn did not look out of place. Actually, he looked like he belonged. The St. Louis Blues were in town and their best players - Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya, Brad Boyes, and Andy McDonald - were all in the lineup. The game went to a shootout and it was the rookie Schenn who scored the winner for the Leafs on a beauty of a deke.
The goal was sweet, but it was Schenn's defensive play that had me aroused. He looked poised and confident beyond his years back there, and played the man beautifully in the third period against a Blues forward who came in on him one-on-one. It was textbook defensive positioning from Schenn, and a single, solitary tear rolled down my face after he made the play. It was fucking beautiful.
Schenn finished the night with a +3 rating, the game winner in the shootout, and 20 minutes of ice time. Not too shabby for a kid who I thought was certainly headed back to junior.
I'm not so sure anymore. Even with all the depth the Leafs have on the blue line, I'm starting to believe that Schenn is playing himself onto this team. Think about it, Andy fucking Wozniewski made the Leafs out of training camp the past two years so, really, it's no surprise that Schenn is making his case.
In the four games he's played, Schenn has seen 19:37, 19:08, 18:32, and 20:01 minutes of ice time per game respectively. He's got one goal and is +5. He's come as advertised: a shutdown, defensive presence.
I know, it's a small sample size, and he had his best performance against the shitty St. Louis Blues, but it's hard not to be impressed by the man child's performance (I can't call a guy who's 6 foot 2 and weighs 216 pounds a "kid").
So, what do you think - back to junior, or is Schenn ready for prime time?
The regular season starts in just over a week - October 9th in Detroit (cue giddiness). While I'm not sure who's the odd man out if Schenn makes the team (Mike Van Ryn? Anton Stralman? Jonas Frogren? Ian White? Jesus, we have way too many defenceman), I think big Luke has earned himself, at the very least, a 10-game tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs.