Luke Schenn: Future of Toronto Maple Leafs' Defense Still Starts with Him

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Luke Schenn: Future of Toronto Maple Leafs' Defense Still Starts with Him
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Luke Schenn: Still the Future of the Leafs Blueline

Luke Schenn, the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs' defense, had a few very important words for Nazem Kadri.

"There's lot of expectations," Schenn told Mike Ulmer of mapleleafs.nhl.com, "but the minute you start listening to everyone outside the rink, people tell you how good you are and you forget what got you here."

In other words, Kadri don't get too caught up in the hype.

Two seasons ago, Luke Schenn was the young stud defenceman for the Leafs. Often one of the few brights spots on the team, Schenn provided Leafs Nation hope for the future.

A season removed from his rookie year, and Schenn is the new whipping boy of Leafs Nation. After a slow start to the season, Schenn was scratched for three games. Schenn's play continued on inconsistently for a few months until—what will soon be known as the renaissance—Brian Burke made two blockbuster moves.

January 31 of 2010, Brian Burke traded Ian White, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan, and Nik Hagman to the Calgary Flames, and Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake to the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs received their new captain, Dion Phaneuf, a great penalty-killer in Fredrick Sjostrom, and monster defensive prospect Keith Aulie from the Flames, and Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Ducks.

From this date on, Schenn's play improved under a new blueline presence, Phaneuf. Schenn finished strong enough to improve in goals going from two goals the previous season to five last season. Schenn finished with three more points and a much better plus/minus; finishing plus-two opposed to minus-14 in his rookie year. The youngster also managed to lead the team in hits for the second consecutive season.

Schenn managed all of this with a significantly reduced role, logging almost five minutes less a game this season than his rookie year.

This season, Schenn will finally come to camp the way Brian Burke most likely would have wanted from the start. A talented 20-year-old coming off two years of experience playing at a high level, bulking up to 235 lbs., and according to recent reports 245 lbs.

With Phaneuf as the leader on the blueline, Schenn will finally stop being expected to be the man and just continue growing as a young man.

A young defenceman, who still has the potential to be the man of the future, something he showed by playing in the NHL at the tender age of 18. Something that even the man, Dion Phaneuf couldn't do.

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