Blue and White Beat: Will Tavares cost the Leafs Schenn?

Will Tavares cost the Leafs Schenn?

It’s a dilemma that more than a few NHL teams would love to have.

What if Brian Burke has to choose between John Tavares and Luke Schenn?

After Tuesday’s proclamation of the Leaf GM’s intention to trade for a premium draft pick to land OHL superstar John Tavares, there is no shortage of speculation as to what Toronto could offer in return to either the Islanders or the Lightning.

Except for rookie sensation Luke Schenn, the cupboard is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s.

The 19-year-old has already become a stalwart on the blue line, and comes in at a very affordable $875,000 annual price tag as a result of his three-year entry-level contract signed last summer.

The Leafs don’t really have any forwards that are attractive enough to package in a deal involving Tavares. Blue chip prospect Jiri Tlusty is about as good as it gets, as far as trade value goes.

On the blueline, Kaberle and Kubina both have no-trade clauses that are exempt between draft day and August 15 as a result of the Leafs missing the playoffs. But will either the Islanders or Lightning take on that much extra salary?

Burke has a well-documented history of draft day manoeuvring, starting in 1993 when as GM of the Hartford Whalers, he gave up a first, second and third-rounder to move up to the #2 spot to grab Chris Pronger . Six years later, at the helm of the Vancouver Canucks, Bryan McCabe was peddled off to the Chicago Blackhawks in a move orchestrated to ensure he could draft the Sedin twins.

Tavares’ market value in ’09 is much higher than either of Pronger in ’93, or half of the Sedin duo in ’99. The asking price will be much steeper this time around.

At the preliminary stages of negotiation, there’s no suggestion here that any specific name off the Leaf roster has been so much as whispered as trade bait.

When he skated off the ice after the Leafs’ final game last Saturday, Luke “The Eraser” Schenn looked very much at home in Toronto, and two days later was selected to represent Canada at the worlds.

He certainly won’t be out of place wearing a red and white maple leaf.

But have we seen his last game wearing a blue and white maple leaf?

***

Bates Battaglia was the overtime hero on Wednesday as the Marlies took the opening game of the Western Conference Quarter-Final against the Manitoba Moose.

His penchant for timely goals over the past two seasons has been nothing short of stunning.

Rewind to a year ago at Ricoh Coliseum, where the Marlies and San Antonio Rampage were deadlocked 1-1 late in the third period Game #7 of their opening round playoff series. With just 59 seconds left in regulation, Battaglia’s low shot from just inside the blueline somehow eluded goalie Josh Tordjman to win the series.

Eleven days later, the Marlies were facing elimination down three games to one against the Syracuse Crunch. It was Battaglia coming to the rescue once again – in overtime – tipping home a centring pass from David Ling from just at the lip of the crease.

Just this past Friday, it was Battaglia who got a stick Tim Stapleton’s point shot to defeat the Moose in overtime. The win sealed the Marlies’ playoff berth, based on Syracuse’s loss in Rochester just moments later.

I haven’t witnessed this much consistent timely scoring since Battaglia’s former Carolina teammate Martin Gelinas went on a tear during the Flames’ 2004 Stanley Cup playoff run. Gelinas potted series-clinching overtime winners against both Vancouver and Detroit that year.

Of course, two years earlier he was the OT hero when he and Battaglia were on the Carolina team than ousted…oh never mind, you don’t want to hear that.

***

After a brief round of telephone tag I finally caught up with Jennifer Botterill, who scored the lone goal in Canada’s 4-1 loss to the United States on Sunday in the gold medal game of the Womens World Hockey Championship.

Canada is in the unfamiliar position of being back-to-back silver medalists at this tournament for the first time ever.

“The U.S. has a great team, and they definitely played really well on Sunday.” said Jennifer, who formed one-third of Canada’s top line alongside veterans Jayna Hefford and Caroline Ouellette. “For us, we need to make sure that we can bring a consistent effort every time we hit the ice, for 60 minutes.”

The gals certainly have their work cut out for them, as they prepare to assemble in the centralization camp in Calgary this summer that will determine not only who will get the chance to defend their (two-time) gold medal, but how to go about doing it.

“I think we feel a lot of confidence in our program. We have to make sure that we do have a lot of jump and a lot of energy. But it’s also about playing better as a team, having better puck support, and making sure that the person with the puck has lots of options.

We know we have a lot of work to do, but we’re also looking forward to that.”

***

Celine Dion as potential owner of the Habs? Say it ain’t so.

Can you imagine the in-house arena music at the Bell Centre after the Canadiens score?

First we had U2 and “Vertigo”. This year the celebratory song was changed to “Generation” by Simple Plan.

I shudder at the following scenario if Celine takes ownership:

French TV Announcer: “Tanguay a Kovalev, IL A BUT!”

Music: “You and Iiiiiiiiiiiii…..were meant to flyyyyyyyyyyyyy”.

Yikes.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Blue And White Beat, and will be blogging at TMLfans.ca throughout Marlies playoff run, as well as the Stanley Cup playoffs.

1 comment

  1. lanny

    We know that Schenn can play in the NHL. We do not know whether Tavares can.
    Schenn is a Leaf so lets keep it like that.

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