Detroit Red Wings: Luke Schenn a name to keep tabs on this offseason

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As we head toward the summer, it goes without saying Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman will have plenty of roster decisions to make. One of those decisions will be figuring out who will fill the void left behind on the right side of their defense after trading Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL trade deadline.

The Hronek deal came as a bit of a shock, considering the right-handed defender is just 25 years old with term remaining. Hronek also seemed to excel playing behind Moritz Seider on the right side paired with the reliable veteran, Olli Maatta. Maatta’s stay-at-home style of play allowed Hronek the freedom to jump into the rush and focus more on his offensive abilities.

You can’t blame Yzerman for making a move with Vancouver. The Canucks sent the Detroit Red Wings a first-round pick in 2023 via the New York Islanders, which they acquired in the Bo Horvat deal, a second-round choice in 2023 for Hronek, and a fourth-round selection in 2023.

Luke Schenn could be an affordable placeholder for the Detroit Red Wings next season.

I understand that Luke Schenn won’t move the needle for most Detroit Red Wings fans, but he could be an affordable short-term solution on the right side next season.

If you recall, Yzerman, along with head coach Derek Lalonde and captain Dylan Larkin all mentioned that the team needs to get tougher next season. Yzerman said that doesn’t mean specifically signing a 6-foot-6 player to ‘beat people up.’ Larkin noted that being a tough guy doesn’t necessarily mean fighting but letting the opponent know they will not be able to get away with cheap shots. And Derek Lalonde said they don’t need someone to fight all the time, but players willing to stick up for each other. The organization at each level seems to have a clear vision of what they need next season.

Schenn, 33, fits that mold in the short term and is a much-needed right-handed shot.

The veteran played in Vancouver last season before he was traded to Toronto, back where he began his career. The Leafs selected Schenn with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Level Draft. Schenn brings an element of physicality to his game as he recorded a career-high 318 hits last season. He’s coming off a contract that paid him $850,000, so if he is willing to sign a one or two-year deal in the neighborhood of $1.5 million average annual value, he’s someone Yzerman needs to strongly consider on the right side of the third pairing. It’s been mentioned that prior to the split between the Leafs and Kyle Dubas, Schenn had been a player the organization had been working to retain. Things are currently in doubt with the unstable front office.

Schenn seems like the perfect partner for Simon Edvinsson next season. Edvinsson may bounce Mattaa to the third pairing if he picks up where he left off to finish the year, but having a player that won’t be pushed around paired with a rookie defender that has yet to grow into his frame isn’t the worst idea. Schenn doesn’t offer much in the way of offense but can be a serviceable penalty killer and depth defender. The veteran defender is coming off a four-goal, 22-point effort over 70 games this past season while maintaining a plus-8 rating averaging over 16 minutes of ice time per night. Notably, Schenn is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and can bring some leadership and experience to Detroit’s roster. Oh, and he’s a clear upgrade to the cast of misfits that Detroit was forced to play on the third pairing for much of last season.

There are certainly more attractive right-handed options in free agency, such as Radko Gudas, John Klingberg, Mathew Dumba, Damon Severson, and Kevin Shattenkirk, but all are far more expensive than Schenn.

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