Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman connected another player to the Calgary Flames, as the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline nears. Friedman previously connected the Flames to Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, but later retracted that after he was told that wasn’t the case. He did mention that van Riemsdyk is the type of player Calgary is going for, which makes sense.
Now, he’s pointed out Luke Schenn and the connections to the Flames twice in the past week. The first instance occurred on Friday’s 32 Thoughts Podcast, which also included an interview with Nazem Kadri. The second occurrence happened last night, in the 32 Thoughts written version.
The Flames are believed to be in on Schenn too, although they might wait to see if it makes sense for them based on the standings. You can see the possibility because of Chris Tanev’s injuries. Tanev is as big a gamer as they come, but even he can’t overcome everything. There’s been a push from some in the Canucks organization to keep Schenn. I think it depends on what’s offered. If Vancouver deems it too low, they won’t move. But there’s plenty of interest, which generally pushes up the price.Elliotte Friedman — 32 Thoughts
Why are the Flames targeting Schenn?
The Flames being in on Schenn makes a ton of sense. The 6’2″, 227 lbs veteran defenceman has played in 913 regular season games and 31 playoff games. More than half of those playoff games—19 to be exact—occurred with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 seasons, where the Bolts won back-to-back Cups. That means there is some familiarity with Flames forward Blake Coleman, who was also a part of those Cup-winning teams.
Schenn has a cap hit of $850K, and is a pending unrestricted free agent following the 2022–23 season.
Earlier this season, Schenn set the NHL record for the most hits by a defender in NHL history, with 2,947. He now has 3,081 hits through his 913 games, for an average of 3.37 hits per game. He already has 241 hits in the 50 games he’s played this season, which is an average of 4.82 hits per game.
Why do the Flames need another defenceman? Michael Stone is a perfect seventh defender, but his full-time play in 2022–23 has shown some cracks, particularly in the defensive end. Stone’s Isolated 5v5 Impact below, per HockeyViz.com, shows a consistent trend in providing some quality offence, particularly from the right point. However, the trend in his defensive game has never been very positive. Adding a pure defensive defenceman to alternate with Stone makes a ton of sense.
A deeper look into Schenn’s game
Schenn’s microstat profile is quite fascinating. He is one of, if not the most physical defenceman in the league, coupled with high volume shooting, good possession, and play in the defensive zone.
Schenn’s isolated 5v5 impact
We now turn to Schenn’s Isolated 5v5 Impact below, courtesy of HockeyViz.com. As the graphic shows, Schenn has been a decent defender throughout his career, particularly right in front of his own net. Offence isn’t a strength, as he’s a pure defensive defenceman. We can see a solid amount of contribution from the right point, so it’s clear he loves to shoot the puck from that position. That would surely fit right in with the way the Flames offence has been structured this season.
The graphic below shows the Canucks 5v5 play with and without Schenn on the ice.
Starting with offence, we can see there is a ton of excess shots from the right point with Schenn on the ice. Without him, there is virtually no event at the right point, so we again confirm Schenn loves to shoot from the right point. The offence is a little bit worse overall with Schenn on the ice compared to without.
On the defensive end, some results occur which I wasn’t expecting. The defence is actually worse with Schenn on the ice compared to without. Two trends pop out to me with Schenn on the ice. First, more shot volume comes from both points, and there is still a ton of volume at the front of the net. While there is shot volume near the net-front, we can see a blurb of blue to the net of the shot, which is exactly where Schenn is on the ice. That shows the viewer that Schenn can limit shot quality at the position where he’s playing.
Schenn’s goals above replacement
Schenn’s player card, courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com, provides us with even more information. Over the last three seasons, Schenn has struggled on the penalty kill and in penalty differential. The struggles shorthanded are very concerning, as you would think the Flames would use him on one of the two PK units. Schenn’s even strength offence and defence aren’t eye-opening, either.
Should the Flames expend an asset for Schenn?
If it’s a fourth-rounder or later, I wouldn’t have any problems. However, we already know there is league-wide interest in Schenn. He’s everything contending teams look for: a veteran, Cup winner, and on a cheap contract. Schenn brings a lot to a team, and will be a valuable addition wherever he goes. He’s noted to be a great team guy, and loves to hit. So, I think the cost will be at least a second-round pick.
I don’t think the Flames should do that. They are in no position to expend high assets for rental players, when they might not even make the playoffs in the first place. Based on the game against the Rangers earlier this week, I can see the Flames wanting some extra physicality. Schenn certainly fits that bill. But I don’t think he moves the needle for the Flames making the playoffs.
I would prefer the Flames to chase someone like veteran defenceman Justin Braun out of Philadelphia. He has a history of being a fantastic defenceman in his own end. But again, I don’t think the Flames should be trading high assets at all right now, given the position they find themselves in.