Luke Schenn remains the only Toronto Maple Leafs player without a contract for the upcoming season as training camp opens today at Ricoh Coliseum. Drafted fifth overall in 2008, Schenn has become a major factor on the Leafs blue line.
With almost $6 million in cap space, it’s not like the Leafs have to dump salary to sign him. By all accounts, the Leafs are not shopping him and are looking to sign him to a long-term contract.
So, why have the Leafs been dragging their feet with such an important and well-liked player?
Yes, Schenn is well-liked. So much so, in fact, that Brian Burke took him along on a trip to Afghanistan in celebration of Canada Day. That sure doesn’t sound like something a general manager would do with a player who wasn’t part of his future plans.
But still, there must be a reason that Schenn remains unsigned, and I believe it’s because Burke and the Leafs are holding the cap space hostage for one final move prior to the start of the season.
If that is indeed the case, then the question becomes who is in play?
To be honest, I have no idea. Really, it could be anyone.
Maybe he is looking to make a deal that includes dumping out-of-favor Jeff Finger and his $3.5 million cap hit. Heaven knows Leafs fans would simply love that.
Komisarek is an unlikely candidate as he still has three years to go on a $4.5 million per year contract that Burke signed him to just two years ago. Even though Finger’s contract is set to expire at season's end, who would want to waste the cap space on such a useless player?
If a deal is in the works, who would be coming to Toronto?
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s name has been mentioned recently in trade rumors. While he would be a welcome addition to the roster, I doubt the Leafs would target him as they have bigger needs elsewhere.
Maybe the New Jersey Devils are looking to shop Zach Parise, who will earn $6 million this year but will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The 27-year-old is coming back from a torn meniscus in his right knee that kept him out of most of last season. If he is healthy and available, he could really help the Leafs.
Another possibility is 23-year old Boston Bruins center Brad Marchand. He is a restricted free agent who made $821,667 last year. It’s only a rumor, but Boston may be shopping him around to see what they can get before deciding to sign him. Then again, it's no secret that Boston and Toronto seem to be each other's most-favored trading partners over the past few seasons.
Regardless of who is in play and who is not, one thing is clear. Luke Schenn’s lack of a contract is no accident. Something is afoot, and Leafs fans shouldn’t be surprised if Burke pulls the trigger on one more deal before the start of the season.