Another Schenn in Leafs’ sights

 

There at least two reasons why Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke would trade up to select Luke Schenn’s younger brother at next month’s NHL entry draft.

 
 
 
 
 

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TORONTO — There at least two reasons why Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke would trade up to select Luke Schenn’s younger brother at next month’s NHL entry draft.

One involves the weakened economy: “You only have to pay for one ticket on a father-son trip,” Burke joked Wednesday.

The other has to do with bloodlines: “You’re getting a Schenn.”

That last explanation is why many believe Brayden will be wearing a Leafs uniform next season. Burke prefers character players who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. And the six-foot, 192-pound power forward, who is 22 months younger than his brother, accumulated 88 points and 82 penalty minutes in the Western Hockey League last season.

“We like (Schenn) irrespective of his lineage,” Burke said of Schenn, in Toronto for this week’s NHL scouting combine. “But the fact that he’s Luke’s brother has some appeal.”

The Leafs moved up two spots — from seventh to fifth — last year in order to draft Luke, considered a blue-chip defenceman. Toronto is slated to pick seventh again and might have to move again to get Brayden, ranked as the fourth-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.

“Brayden, evaluated independently, is a gem in this year’s draft,” said E.J. Maguire, director of NHL Central Scouting. “This kid is going to get drafted really high because he’s really good.”

Though Burke has openly said he has his sights set on trying to land Ontario Hockey League scoring star John Tavares, who is widely expected to go with the first pick, the Leafs’ GM has a history of stockpiling siblings.

In 1999 as GM of the Vancouver Canucks, Burke drafted identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He then reunited Scott Niedermayer with his older brother Rob in Anaheim, and the two combined to win a Stanley Cup.

“It has some risks,” Burke said of family members playing on the same team.

“If one player is not playing well and has to be benched or sent down to the minors, you worry how the other brother will take it. But I wouldn’t be afraid of that with Schenn. If one player is a character guy, it’s likely that the other will be, too.”

Schenn is not the only draft-eligible player with a famous family tree.

Landon Ferraro, Tyson Barrie, Carter Ashton and Tim Erixon all had fathers who played in the NHL, while No. 1-ranked North American netminder Matthew Hackett’s uncle Jeff played for six different teams and is currently the goaltending coach for the Colorado Avalanche.

“It makes you want these players more intently,” Maguire said. “Whether the Leafs move up to the five spot or not is a bit of intrigue for the Toronto people locally. But it would be nice to have that brother combination, although it hasn’t hurt the Staals to be playing on different teams.”

The Schenns have played on the same team only once, when Brayden was bumped up an age group in novice. Neither brother has much memory of that season.

But both remember the one time they met as opponents in the Western Hockey League.

“Luke got the better of me,” said Brayden, whose Brandon Wheat Kings lost 8-1 to Luke’s Kelowna Rockets in the 2007-08 season. “He knocked me on my a—.”

“I caught him pretty good,” Luke told The Hockey News. “I had to let him know who was the older brother, who was the tough one.”

Indeed, Luke is about two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Brayden.

But outside of the rink and the gym, there is one area where the kid brother has his older brother’s numbers: video games.

“Since he’s been home, we’ve played about 15 games (of NHL ’09) and he’s beaten me just once,” said Brayden. “So I got the edge on Xbox.”

If the Leafs trade up to the fourth spot to pick Brayden, there might be more for him to brag about.

“I’m definitely excited — and my parents are, too — about the chance of me maybe being a part of the Leafs organization,” he said. “You never know what can happen on draft day. But it’s just going to be a great relief and excitement to play on any team.”

National Post

mtraikos@nationalpost.com
 
 
 
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