As we enter the final month before the 2022 Trade Deadline, not a day goes by without a new rumour or talking point about a potential Vancouver Canucks transaction coming down the pike. Some of the names brought up, like JT Miller and Jaroslav Halak, have elicited a bunch of excited trade proposals. Others, like Brock Boeser and Conor Garland, have instigated some serious debate.
But if there’s one name that evokes regretful groans whenever the possibility of them being dealt away from Vancouver is mentioned, it’s Luke Schenn.
Here’s why fans really don’t want Schenn to be moved at the deadline — and why he’s almost certainly worth more to the Canucks than he’d return in a trade anyway.
Why he’d be a hot commodity at the Trade Deadline
There isn’t much mystery as to why Schenn’s name is out there amidst rumours and speculation. From the perspective of other teams around the NHL, he’s a hot Trade Deadline commodity.
The 32-year-old right-handed defender has made an enormous contribution to the Canucks thus far in 2021/22. He’s spent a good chunk of the season on the top pairing alongside Quinn Hughes, where he’s performed better than just about anyone else partnered with the young franchise cornerstone.
When he’s not with Hughes, Schenn is on the bottom-pairing providing rock-solid depth.
Through 34 games, Schenn has posted three goals and seven points. That’s the best scoring pace of his career, and the third-best PPG on the Vancouver blueline — just a hair behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Schenn has killed an average of 1:56 of penalties per game, and allowed only 8.24 power-play-goals-against-per-60, second-lowest on the PK crew after Tyler Motte.
He has also, as always, played ultra-physical, leading the Canucks in hits by a large margin with 144 and in fighting majors with four.
Then there’s the fact that Schenn is coming off two consecutive Stanley Cup championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And the fact that he’s signed for the remainder of this season and next for a tidy cap hit of $850K.
So, yeah, everybody should want Luke Schenn on their team. He’s a veteran, dependable RHD who can play anywhere on a blueline and is built for the playoffs.
But “everybody” also includes the Vancouver Canucks, and they already have Schenn.
Why he’s worth keeping on the Canucks
The right side of the Canucks’ blueline has been a bit of a mess in 2021/22. Schenn has, as we’ve mentioned, played exceptionally well, and well over and above the value of his contract. Tyler Myers has been a recent revelation. Kyle Burroughs has filled in admirably and provided quality depth.
Aside from those three, however, it’s been borderline disastrous. Tucker Poolman has been a total flop. Travis Hamonic has yet to get his feet under him. And there’s no one in the system ready to come in and provide relief.
That’s something that the Canucks will be looking to improve upon as they move through the 2022 Trade Deadline and into the 2022 offseason. But with the team already up tight against the cap, making genuine upgrades is going to be difficult.
Schenn, in the meantime, provides an immense amount of support and stability. He’s already proven capable of partnering with Hughes, and not everyone has. Should the Canucks fail to acquire another top-four RHD, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Hughes/Schenn pairing to ride for another year.
Should the Canucks acquire someone else, Schenn neatly slides down the lineup into the #6 or #7 slot — a gig for which he’s already appropriately paid.
He’s the Canucks’ top PKing defender, and that’s saying a lot on a league-worst penalty kill. Schenn is also popular with his teammates, and the first to stick up for them when on-ice transgressions occur.
In short, there’s absolutely no reason to want to get rid of Schenn, and plenty of reason to be happy about him being back next season at a very reasonable price. That he’d be worth hanging onto isn’t really up for debate.
Now, other teams could obviously challenge that equation with a compelling trade offer.
But will they?
What would they get for him, anyway?
The general notion is that the Canucks would be offered a mid-round draft pick in exchange for Schenn. Past deadline deals seem to support that, with the most likely range of value falling somewhere between a third and a fourth round pick.
The 2021 Trade Deadline saw names like Mike Reilly, David Rittich, Jonas Seigenthaler, Brandon Montour, and Eric Staal all flipped for third rounders. Players like Dmitry Kulikov, Patrik Nemeth, and Brendan Lemieux all went for fourth rounders.
One can argue where Schenn fits into that pantheon, value-wise, but he’s definitely in the same ballpark.
If a second round pick were to be offered up for Schenn, that might really make the Canucks think twice. Two of the Canucks’ last six second round picks have been Nils Höglander and Thatcher Demko, so the value is high. But how likely is that to actually happen?
Over the past year, second round picks have been doled out in return for players like Nick Leddy, Ryan Graves, Sam Bennett, and Taylor Hall.
Admire Schenn all you like, but he clearly doesn’t belong in that group.
So, it seems as though the Canucks would have to settle for a third round pick (or less) if they dealt Schenn at the 2022 Trade Deadline.
Which leads us to wonder…
Is that really worth it?
Statistically speaking, any third round selection has about a 14% chance of going on to play 100 or more games in the NHL.
That gives the draft pick itself some value and, obviously, the more of them a team has, the better their chances of picking a winner.
But is one, singular 14% chance at drafting and developing an NHL player who won’t be ready for three-to-four years really worth giving up a year-and-a-half of Schenn?
It’s important to remember that, even if that theoretical draft pick beats the 100-game threshold, there’s no guarantee that they do so as a more effective player than Schenn — who, for the record, played his 800th NHL game this season (sixth most from his draft class).
Just looking back at the Canucks’ own draft history again, we find that the last third round pick to even come close to 100 games was Nikita Tryamkin, who’s managed 79 so far. Others, like Guillaume Brisebois and Mike DiPietro, have earned cups of coffee, but seem unlikely to hit the century-mark.
The last Vancouver third rounder to well-and-truly make it was Kevin Connauton, picked in 2009. He’s played 347 games, none of them for Vancouver — and few of them have been at Schenn’s current level of play.
To find a Vancouver third round pick actually better than Schenn, you’ve got to go back 18 years to the 2004 Entry Draft and Alex Edler.
And, hey, Edler was fantastic. But a third round pick doesn’t represent a 14% chance of drafting an Edler. It’s a 14% chance at drafting a temporary fourth liner or better. The odds of drafting an Edler with a third round pick is probably well under 5%.
We’re not here to suggest that that doesn’t carry any value. But enough value to pry away Schenn?
We’re not convinced.
Is Luke Schenn REALLY as replaceable as people think?
Now, there are those who will look at an offer of a third round pick for Schenn and still want the Canucks to take it. After all, it’s a free lottery ticket in exchange for a player that should ostensibly be replaceable as early as this offseason.
But is Schenn really as replaceable as people think he is?
Yes, you can find a couple dozen sub-$1 million bottom-pairing defenders on the UFA market every offseason. That’s exactly how the Canucks got Schenn (the second time around, anyway).
But how many of those defenders would be able to take shifts with Hughes? How many would be premium penalty killers? How many play intense physical games, or are capable of scrapping with heavyweights? How many come with two Stanley Cup rings, or come custom-built for long, arduous playoff runs?
The answer is “not many.” And of those few that qualify, then you’ve got to worry about whether or not they actually want to come to Vancouver.
Luke Schenn already chose to come to Vancouver. He’s already here, and he’s already signed, and he’s already provided ample value for his contract with a year-and-a-half left to go in it.
He’s not exactly what we’d label as “untouchable.” But for what the Canucks will likely be offered in return for him, Schenn really shouldn’t be going anywhere.