At 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn is a force to be reckoned with. The 23 year-old has been a perennial leader in hits since his 2008 rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Five seasons since his debut, Schenn continues to work on his defensive game. Fortunately for the eldest Schenn brother, he’s been given the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the game.
Growing up, Schenn modeled his play after Chris Pronger. Picked 2nd overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1993 draft, Pronger has enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. The 6-foot-6 defender has tallied 157 goals and 541 assists in 1167 career games. In 2000, he became the first defenseman to win the Hart trophy for most valuable player since 1972.
Acquired by the Flyers in 2009, Pronger became captain with the departure of Mike Richards in 2011. Unfortunately, his NHL career is likely over, as he suffers from post-concussion syndrome. Despite his injury, he remains an active member of the Flyers organization, serving as a scout. With any luck, Pronger will be able to impart on Schenn an ability to use his size not just for hitting but for shutting down offensive rushes. Pronger used his sweeping range to terrorize rival forwards, a technique that should bode well for Schenn.
Finnish defender Kimmo Timonen and Swiss newcomer Mark Streit have enjoyed illustrious careers as well. The veteran defensemen both serve as stay-at-home defenders, opting out for an offensive approach to defending. Their defensive vision and foresight comes from years of experience, and any knowledge passed on to Schenn would benefit the Flyers greatly. He has already shown his willingness to block shots and sacrifice his body to make a play.
With proper mentoring and experience, Schenn could well be a franchise defender. He has the size and intensity to become a dominant figure on the blue line, and his grit and toughness are sure to make him a Philadelphia favorite. In a few years time, with the right help, Schenn could become the defenseman the Flyers and their fans have dreamed of.