Colorado Avalanche: Is the Luke Schenn the Best UFA?

Mar 22, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Luke Schenn (52) between the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Kings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Luke Schenn (52) between the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Kings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Colorado Avalanche should consider LA Kings free agent Luke Schenn, if he comes cheaply enough.

Ask any Colorado Avalanche fan, and they’ll usually agree — the team needs help on defense. Even Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said he’s looking to improve the team “on the back end.”

Colorado doesn’t make a habit of selecting defensemen in the first round of the NHL draft — at least not since Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy took over.

They do have a fair amount of prospects in the system, though. Nikita Zadorov and/or Chris Bigras are likely to start the season with the big team. Mason Geertsen would probably be the next call up. They also have a few players unfamiliar to me anyway — Cody Corbett and Mat Clark in particular — as well as the recently-signed Anton Linholm and Sergei Boikov.

Nonetheless, the Colorado Avalanche could use to bolster its blueline in free agency. Enter Los Angeles Kings free agent Luke Schenn.

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Luke Schenn’s Playing Style

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Luke Schenn is a little like the opposite of Tyson Barrie. He’s a big player — 6-foot-2, and a beefy 229 pounds — but he’s not the most offense-minded of players. Indeed, in 566 NHL games across eight seasons, he has just 28 goals and 100 assists.

The most goals he’s ever scored in a season is five (2010-11), and the most points he’s gotten is 22 (2010-11 and 2012-13). He averages more along the lines of 16.

But being a points producer isn’t Schenn’s MO. He’s an excellent shutdown defenseman of your Adam Foote variety — physical and mean without taking a lot of costly penalties. He loves to hit, and he’s no stranger to blocking shots.

Part of Schenn’s game is his positioning. He gets into position and stays there. However, he’s also well able to move quickly to change position. He’s not afraid to park himself in front of his own net, but he’ll power over to the corners to work those when necessary.

Another thing he shares with Foote, Schenn has great leadership abilities. He’s just 26, but he’s a solid locker room guy.

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Luke Schenn’s Fit with the Colorado Avalanche

The new Colorado Avalanche mold is for big, speedy, two-way players with grit and leadership. Luke Schenn doesn’t fit every one of those points — I’ve never heard anyone accuse him of being speedy — but he still fills a need with the team.

Schenn is big and gritty, and he’s a good locker room guy. Luke is a shut-down defenseman, and that could be useful to a team that is awful loosey-goosy in their own end.

Schenn would probably be a third pairing defenseman with Eric Gelinas. You could try him with Tyson Barrie as a mode of protection, though he’s a fellow right-hand shot. He’d also be great on the penalty kill.

However, this only works if the Colorado Avalanche can get him relatively cheaply. Schenn is coming off of a five-year contract that had an annual cap hit of $3.6 million. That would be OK, but a 26-year-old might want a raise.

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So, while Luke Schenn could be of value to the Colorado Avalanche, he just might not be cheap enough. Truthfully, the team might be better off sniffing around other unrestricted free agents. If, however, Schenn doesn’t have a contract by training camp, maybe Colorado could make a play for him.