How Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Handle Luke Schenn?

Shane HouseAnalyst IOctober 8, 2008

I am going to be completely honest with everybody, and come out and say it—Luke Schenn as of right now, is the best defenseman on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He loves to hit, he can play the body well, and he positions himself great on every part of the ice. He has been solid. But here is the three-year entry-level contract question:

Does Luke Schenn deserve to stay with the big club this year?

His play does warrant it. He has been a plus player amongst professional talent. But how much of it was actual NHL talent?

The preseason allows players of all talent levels to try-out for the big clubs, ranging from guys from the AHL to the Euro leagues, to even first-round picks from current and previous seasons.

I am not trying to take away from Schenn’s stellar play during the preseason—but it might seem a little better then it really was.

He mostly played against AHL players and third liners from the NHL. We still don’t really have a good idea of how he will compete against premier NHL talent. I think he will hold his own when he plays—but if we leave him in the NHL, how will this affect his development?

It might be good or bad for him. If he's left with the big club the whole season, the bigger, stronger players in the NHL might wear him down and eventually injure the very-talented prospect.

I think the smart thing to do at this point is give him a taste of the NHL. Let him know what he is fighting for, and then send him down after a nine-game tryout. If we keep him up for the whole season, he will be injured and worn down by the seasons end, both emotionally and physically.

People have got to remember that he is still 18 years old—too young to have the hopes of a whole franchise on his shoulders. I am just as excited as the next person about this kid, but let’s not put him in right away and have him turn into another Drake Berehowsky.

Leafs fans deserve better, and so does Luke Schenn.