How the Luke Schenn Injury Impacts Nashville Predators Defensive Corps

Oct 10, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Luke Schenn (2) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Luke Schenn (2) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports /

The first injury news of 2023-24 for the Nashville Predators comes four games in, with Luke Schenn being reported to be out the next four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.

Schenn has missed the last three games after playing in the season opener at Tampa and logging 15:11 of ice time with four hits and a blocked shot.

After being acquired in free agency this past offseason as one of Barry Trotz’s first moves as an NHL General Manager, this certainly throws a monkey wrench into his overall plans.

Schenn signed a three-year deal at $2.75M AAV and was even thought of as being a top line partner with Roman Josi. But since Schenn has been out, Dante Fabbro has gotten top pairing duties.

Schenn’s Injury Leaves the Door Open for Others to Get a Shot

With Schenn out at least a month, this leaves the Nashville Predators defensive corps with Josi, Fabbro, Tyson Barrie, Ryan McDonagh, Alexandre Carrier and Jeremy Lauzon. It leaves open the door for a call-up in the near future to have a seventh defenseman on the NHL level.

Spencer Stastney makes a lot of sense here considering he played very well in his first stint of NHL action earlier in 2023 and brings offensive upside that the Predators could use more of in their fast pace style of play.

Another option may be Marc Del Gaizo, a player who stuck around until late in training camp before being reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals.

Del Gaizo registered an assist in the Admrials’ season opening 2-1 win over the Chicago Wolves, while Stastney tallied the game-winning goal in overtime.

Out of these two, I’m going with Stastney because he already has NHL experience, and is a left shot defenseman that can pair better in the Predators defensive corps.

I’ll go even further to say that I’m not opposed to healthy scratching Jeremy Lauzon at this point, and giving Stastney a shot to stick in the lineup as a regular starter. That would make the pairings something like Josi/Fabbro, McDonagh/Carrier and Stastney/Barrie.

That’s a bottom defensive pairing of Stastney and Barrie that could actually provide you a little offensive flare.

Another option is calling up Jake Livingstone or Jordan Gross. Both also have brief NHL experience. So in other words, the Predators have decent options in their prospect pool to turn to in light of the Schenn injury news.

How Schenn’s Injury Affects a Possible Trade of Fabbro

Trade rumblings continue to build linking the Predators as interested in Conor Garland of the Vancouver Canucks. A middle six winger who could be traded for, and you don’t even have to take on his full salary.

However, this news of Schenn’s injury might complicate that possibility of trading away Fabbro, which seems like a top trade piece you’d move on from if you’re the Predators and want Garland. With Schenn out, are you going to decimate your defensive corps even more?

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Fabbro has been held without a point through three games after being a healthy scratch in the season-opener. He got top pairing duties with Josi in the absolute curb stopping the Oilers handed to the Predators on Tuesday night.

With Fabbro being an RFA in 2024, I’m keeping him at the top of my trade block unless something magical happens and Fabbro stops being an offensive abyss.

Furthermore, the acquisition of Schenn never made complete sense to me anyway. Felt like a waste of cap space just to get a 33-year-old locker room guy and a “bodyguard” for Josi. Obviously no one can plan for an injury, but even with him available, I just don’t get it.

Schenn should get back into the lineup midseason and your fingers are crossed that he provides some muscle and veteran experience as the regular season grinds on. By then, the now 1-3-0 Nashville Predators may be a deep hole in the standings.

If this season is really all about seeing what you got in your young players for the long-term future, then although it’s under bad circumstances, it gives you the chance for a younger player to step up and prove themselves.

I’m going with Stastney as the top candidate to get a shot. He’ll be an RFA in 2024 and will be 24 years-old at that point. It will be time to make a decision on his NHL future with Nashville.