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Player Grades 2017: Luke Schenn, the reliable blueliner

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The former fifth overall (2008) pick landed with the Coyotes in the offseason. How did he fare?

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Signed in late July to a two-year, $2.5M contract, the rugged, physical defenseman was brought in to replace the grit and stability on the back-end, filling the role of former Coyote Nicklas Grossman.

An occasional healthy scratch, he found himself finishing the season on the Coyotes top unit alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a defense corps that saw a great deal of transition, including the debuts of Jakob Chychrun and Anthony DeAngelo, and the departure of the once-promising Michael Stone.

So with all the changes on the back end, how did Luke Schenn do?

EXPECTATION

When grading a player, one must consider not only performance but the expectations of them going into the season. Thus, the level of play to warrant an A+ for Ekman-Larsson would be different from the level of play Schenn would have to reach to get the same grade.

It’s important to remember that Schenn was essentially brought in to fill out the bottom pairing, as OEL, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, and Michael Stone were the de facto top-4, with Kevin Connauton, Zbynek Michalek, Chychrun, and DeAngelo all vying for that final spot. And he wasn’t brought in to light the lamp, either (his career-high point total came back in 2011-12 when he put up a whopping 22 points with the Leafs).

Regarding his contract, here’s a look at comparables, à la CapFriendly:


CapFriendly

26 and having a contract that resembles that of an over-the-hill defensemen? Suffice to say, expectations were pretty low.

REALITY

Let’s start with the ugly: in 78 games, he only had 1 goal and 7 assists. While I mentioned that he wasn’t renowned for his scoring prowess, he was third among Coyotes defensemen in shots taken, and his increase in ice time as the season progressed should have helped bump his numbers up to at least double-digits. As far as shot percentage goes, this was his worst season since entering the league, hovering at 1.1% (his career average is 3.6%).

For other basic stats lovers, Schenn’s +/- of -9 was tied with the more offensive-minded Goligoski for best among Coyotes defensemen, he led the team in penalty minutes (85; I’ll let you guys decide whether or not that’s a good thing), and was third in the league in hits, with Murphy as the next Coyote on the list coming in at 24th.

Oh, and he can fight:

Moving along into fancier stuff, we see some interesting numbers: he has the third-highest Corsi For among the Coyotes regulars, but also had one of the lowest Corsi For percentages. In other words, both teams shoot a lot while he’s on the ice, but like most Coyotes defensemen, a greater majority are happening in his own end.

What’s interesting though, is that his Goals Against per 60 minutes was the best among full-time Coyote defenders, despite facing some of the best competition (second only to Ekman-Larsson). So while goaltenders Mike Smith and Louis Domingue faced more shots while Schenn was on the ice, those shots were more stoppable than the ones faced when other defensemen were on the ice. Similarly, when on the penalty-kill, Schenn has the second-best Corsi Against.

Cool Hand Luke

Rank LastName FirstName Team Pos GP TOI GF GA GF60 GA60 GF% SF SA Sh% Sv% PDO CF CA CF60 CA60 CF% CSh% CSv% CPDO
Rank LastName FirstName Team Pos GP TOI GF GA GF60 GA60 GF% SF SA Sh% Sv% PDO CF CA CF60 CA60 CF% CSh% CSv% CPDO
1 SCHENN LUKE Arizona D 78 1216.37 37 45 1.825 2.22 45.12 553 685 6.6908 93.4307 100.1215 1061 1322 52.336 65.211 44.52 3.4873 96.5961 100.0834
2 CONNAUTON KEVIN Arizona D 24 286.183 10 11 2.097 2.306 47.62 127 158 7.874 93.038 100.912 252 304 52.833 63.735 45.32 3.9683 96.3816 100.3499
3 GOLIGOSKI ALEX Arizona D 82 1449.4 54 63 2.235 2.608 46.15 671 810 8.0477 92.2222 100.2699 1262 1513 52.242 62.633 45.48 4.2789 95.8361 100.115
4 DEANGELO ANTHONY Arizona D 39 547.033 14 24 1.536 2.632 36.84 277 331 5.0542 92.7492 97.8034 501 595 54.951 65.261 45.71 2.7944 95.9664 98.7608
5 EKMAN-LARSSON OLIVER Arizona D 79 1429.37 53 63 2.225 2.645 45.69 651 789 8.1413 92.0152 100.1565 1215 1481 51.002 62.167 45.07 4.3621 95.7461 100.1082
6 CHYCHRUN JAKOB Arizona D 68 988.4 32 45 1.943 2.732 41.56 438 551 7.3059 91.833 99.1389 835 1022 50.688 62.04 44.96 3.8323 95.5969 99.4292
7 MURPHY CONNOR Arizona D 77 1273.67 40 59 1.884 2.779 40.4 571 670 7.0053 91.194 98.1993 1059 1236 49.887 58.226 46.14 3.7771 95.2265 99.0036
Puckalytics

Apologies if you’re sick of advanced stats, but I decided to dig a little deeper before making my judgment on Schenn. If you’re hired to be a physical, defensive-defenseman, perhaps the best way to judge one’s value is to look under the hood at the numbers when your team is defending a lead.

Lo and behold, when leading, Schenn boasts the best Corsi For percentage on the entire team among full-timers and again is among the leaders in opponent shot percentage. While his shot suppression this season wasn’t great, he does boast a considerably strong Corsi Against when on the penalty-kill:

Anecdotally, I thought Schenn not only performed admirably in the defensive zone, but did a good job getting the puck out of the zone as well. Fortunately, I’ve got some numbers to back me up on this; despite having the fewest offensive zone starts of any Coyotes defensemen, Schenn was third among the corps in shots taken (only 2 behind first-place Goligoski) and had the second-highest Individual Corsi per 60 minutes (.02 less than team-leading Chychrun). That’s nothing to shake a stick at.

THE VERDICT

So with all this in mind, what grade do I give Schenn?

Well, considering that he began the season as a bottom-pairing defenseman, making bottom-pairing money, and finished the season skating alongside Ekman-Larsson, boasting considerable defensive numbers while also helping push play, I’d have to give him a B+.

While he did have some mishaps in his own zone and he still should’ve had some better raw offensive numbers, you can’t deny that he exceeded expectations, turning into one of our more reliable blueliners. On a team that laid an egg this season, that’s pretty darn good.

The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.

Poll

What Grade Would You Give Luke Schenn?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A
    (22 votes)
  • 42%
    B
    (39 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    He made Goligoski look good
    (10 votes)
92 votes total Vote Now

The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.