Lightning free agency: 5 things to know about Luke Schenn

The former Vancouver Canucks defenseman signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon.
Free agent defenseman Luke Schenn, formerly of Vancouver, signed with the Lightning on Monday. [AP Photo | Ross D. Franklin]
Free agent defenseman Luke Schenn, formerly of Vancouver, signed with the Lightning on Monday. [AP Photo | Ross D. Franklin]
Published July 2

TAMPA — Without former Lightning blueliners Dan Girardi and Anton Strålman, Julien BriseBois added veteran defenseman Luke Schenn to the mix of d-men at the start of the NHL’s free agency period.

[ MORE LIGHTNING: NHL free agency: Lightning adds a third goalie in Curtis McElhinney ]

With his signing, here are five things Lightning fans should know about right-handed defenseman:

1. Five teams in five years

Schenn has made his way around the league over the past five years bouncing from one team to the next. The Lightning will be his sixth team in six years. Schenn’s multi-team journey started in the middle of his 2015-16 season with the Flyers, his third with Philly. Philadelphia, traded him to the Kings before he signed a two-year contract with Arizona. At the start of 2018-19 he played with the Anaheim before the Ducks traded him to the Vancouver Canucks in January.

2. True stay-at-home-defenseman

Schenn goes into the Lightning’s defensemen core posting some of the lowest numbers on the roster. The 29-year-old Canadian native hasn’t notched more than 10 points in a single season except once in the past five seasons. It’s likely Schenn will compete with Jan Rutta, who signed a one-year deal in May, for a spot in a pairing with veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, who signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay before the July 1 free agency deadline. However, being a “stay-at-home-defenseman” often results in posting low numbers because players are less worried about the attacking aspect of the game and more focused on defending. In his 11-year NHL career of 734 regular season games, Schenn has 30 goals and 145 points.

3. Size is good

Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 221 pounds, it’s safe to say Schenn will add some punch to the Lightning’s blueline. Many have complained over the years that the club is in need of some more grit, enter Schenn. In his 2017-18 season with Arizona, Schenn posted 219 hits on the season, the 14th-highest in the league among defensemen. On March 24 against the Blue Jackets, Schenn made franchise history as the only player to record 12 hits in a single game. He has notched 200-plus hits in seven separate seasons throughout his career.

[ MORE LIGHTNING: The Lightning already has scorers, so what did it really want with Joe Pavelski? ]

4. He was a favorite in Vancouver, despite his short tenure with the Canucks

When Michael Del Zotto was traded to the Ducks in exchange for Schenn, not many knew what to expect of the 29-year-old who’s first half of the season was a poor indicator of what Schenn could actually bring to the team. And it didn’t take long for fans to notice Schenn’s style of play. In fact, they decided on a new hashtag on Twitter in his honor, #DrunkonSchenn.

5. Breathing room to grow

With Schenn’s signing as a “seventh” defenseman on the Lightning’s blueline, it gives some other players some time to really prepare for the NHL. Cal Foote showed promise but may not be ready right at the start of the season and can benefit from more time in Syracuse. It also gives Rutta some healthy competition for that last spot, assuming he’s the “sixth” defenseman.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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