Takin' a T/O With BT: Luke Schenn, Welcome to The Jungle (and The Maple Leafs)

xx yySenior Writer IJune 23, 2008

Do you ever look into the future and wonder what's going to be meeting you there? What new faces will there be? Which old ones will have stuck around? Will you still be as passionate about the same things in the future that you are now?

Well, in fourteen years, what do you think will be happening?

Will the newest Maple Leaf be leading a burgeoning Blue and White defense, or will we as fans be wondering—as we have so often—what might have been? Will we have witnessed a team who finally got the idea and started to formulate a competitive attitude, once again taking the league by storm, or will we be just where we are now—middling amongst the layers of mediocrity?

Alright, so maybe fourteen years is a little two long—we'll probably know within the next six-to-eight years the impact that this specific weekend had on the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but at least we started the next chapter in the book the right way didn't we?

Instead of just aimlessly dumping the draft pick for another spare part (or goalie), we witnessed our GM (Interim or not) implement his plan and work to get who he wanted, stopping at nothing to get there. Instead of going slightly off the board and catching people off guard with our choices, we took a player who the experts picked to be a difference maker among the options out there this year.

Luke Schenn is Toronto's difference maker. Today, Luke Schenn is the future for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the seventh pick, the Maple Leafs could have gone in a variety of ways: Some had the Buds trading down in the draft, while others had them trading up as they did, while there were some who thought that Cliff Fletcher would ship the pick away for some immediate help.

There were others, like myself, who were praying that whatever happened, it'd be for the better of the franchise.

Talk was that the Leafs would take a forward with their highest pick—one of Colin Wilson, Mikkel Boedker, or even Nikita Filatov if it would work out, and based on the thinness of the forward corps this didn't seem like a bad idea, especially if one of those three were able to compliment the likes of Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin.

But Fletcher shut out the media, stuck to his own plan, and went with a kid that has a ton of talent. Schenn can play the body, he can shut-down the opposing teams' best forward, and with a little development, his offensive game may really gain some steam as well.

What's more is that with Anton Stralman already in the mix, it seems that Schenn may be the perfect piece to compliment the young Swede atop Toronto's defensive unit for years to come—the stay-at-home presence with a nifty outlet pass and adept ice vision necessary to balance out the offensive gifts of number thirty-six.

But what of the seemingly un-fillable hole that could be left by the departure of long-time Captain Mats Sundin? Well—even though I won't actually accept this until the ink dries on a contract with anyone other than Toronto—if Sundin is to leave, Schenn has the experience leading a team, and the winning pedigree to succeed in a hockey-mad market.

The youngster from Saskatchewan was an assistant Captain with the Kelowna Rockets while being mentored under the watchful eye of Shea Weber. Although he was a year removed from Kelowna's Memorial Cup Championship in 2003-04, Schenn was asked to accompany the team to the Championship the following year in London, Ontario in an attempt to help him soak in the atmosphere and get accustomed to the team.

This past season, Schenn even tasted International success as he and team Canada finished atop the hockey world once again, claiming gold at the past World Junior Championships.

Granted, when I first heard the news I was a little uneasy—I mean this is still the team that drafted Jeff Ware, Luca Cereda, Eric Fichaud, and Landon Wilson in the first round, so any first round pick gets me a little edgy—and I was a little disappointed it wasn't a forward.

But after hearing so much about Schenn, I'll let myself get a little excited—the sunshine had to start peeking through the drapes at some point didn't it?

Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you'd like to get in contact with him, you can do so through his profile, and you can access his archives here.