|2009 - Brayden Schenn||1||0||0||0||-1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.0|
Schenn had a fairly disappointing season. He only got into one game this season and he didn't get a point, so... wait, what's that? ...Oh. Apparently, Schenn also got into a few games in junior hockey, too. Anyway, no one cares about that (and what the hell is a Wheat King, anyway?) so let's focus instead on next season. Dean Lombardi, that irascible sphinx, recently made a few cryptic comments to Rich Hammond over at LAKingsInsider that got my blood pumping in places that have lain flaccid for many a year:
Schenner [ed. note: what?] might be one of the first ones to adjust on his first contract and say, `OK, if I’m going to break in, I might have to start as a No. 4, and I can’t break in as a 4 with a $3-million cap number."
Question: His cap number had been listed at around $3 million. That’s actually not what it would cost you to have him around?
LOMBARDI: "Let’s just say, for now, that he has showed it’s important for him to make this team and not have that as a hindrance."
I read this, and I got really excited. Then I realized I had no idea what it meant so I e-mailed Quisp from Jewels From the Crown, basically saying, "Hey Goober, what the hell?" Then I made a sandwich. Tuna, actually, it was delicious. Then Quisp wrote me back and said:
I don't see any interpretation other than Schenn intentionally had his bonus "triggers" set so high as to essentially guarantee that they won't be paid. My guess is something like, "I get a million if I win the scoring title and a million if I'm playoff MVP." The salary portion of his contract is set to within the range for ELCs and can't change no matter what. From what Lombardi said, I would assume that at least 50% and probably close to 75% of his bonus is safe for Lombardi to spend elsewhere (i.e. Schenn's cap hit is somewhere around $1.5MM, maybe less.)
I read this, and I got really excited. Then I realized I had no idea what it meant. But basically (I think), Schenn's cap hit is going to be a lot closer to the rookie salary he's signed for than the bonuses he might possibly attain. This is awesome because it means the Kings could potentially rock a Kopitar-Handzus-Stoll-Schenn center core next season! Isn't that cool? No? Yeah, the girls at work didn't seem too excited either. But I am. It's cool because it means the Kings would be really deep and every center would be considered "good" defensively.
There are a ton of options that come into play with that center core. Terry Murray could roll back Handzus' and Stoll's even-strength ice time a little bit and really maximize their strengths on special teams. The Kings could roll like how the Ducks originally did with Getzlaf & Perry and put Kyle Clifford & Brayden Schenn with Kevin Westgarth on the 4th line; they could put Schenn on the 2nd line with Brown and [insert free agent here]; they could stick Stoll on a wing and let him cover for Schenn defensively. The point is, there are a whole range of options available to the Kings if they can keep those 4 centers on the team and still fit under the cap.
More importantly, this type of entry into the NHL is what's best for Schenn. People forget that he just barely made the cutoff to be drafted last season; he doesn't turn 19 until late August. (Kopitar's the same way.) He's a very talented kid and more importantly he's a hard worker, but it would be best for him if he could slowly get his feet wet and gain responsibility as the season wears on. Putting him on a 4th line while shifting him at even strength more than a 4th line center would normally play is a great way for him to gain confidence and learn the game at an NHL level. Plus the lessons he'd learn in practice would be invaluable; there's not much more he can learn by beating up on kids his own age for the 3rd season in a row. Schenn doesn't need to become a top-flight center next season, he just needs to become a capable NHLer. I think he can do that.
So yeah, the Kings pretty much just took care of my summer for me because now I'm going to fantasize about this until September. Like I said, awesome. Here's what I scribbled on an envelope when I first read that quote (I've fiddled around since but I'll leave it up for posterity's sake):
*That's not the top line and I originally had Kovalchuk instead of Marleau, but this way the lines form a pyramid. Cool!