Out of the Blue

Lowetide
March 29 2012 08:03AM

This is Justin Schultz. In terms of adding a possible free agent for the Oilers this off-season, there are many things that make him an ideal target for the team.

So far during our look at solutions to the Oilers blue, we've concentrated on UFA's, RFA's and possible trade partners. In this case, we're looking at a young man who may be about to use a loophole in the system to gain free agency before his first pro game.

I'm not going to go too far into the technicality that allows UFA status, but the current CBA says a player like Schultz can in fact inform his school (Wisconsin) he's leaving, wait until summer when the option becomes available, and then sign a contract with one of the 30 available NHL teams.

There are limits on the dollars that can be spent for this player, so there's nothing terribly unique about Edmonton's offer in the form of cash. They do have an interesting opportunity for the young man, expressed well by Bob McKenzie last night in the NHL on tsn quiz. The question was:

Who is most likely to sign unrestricted free agent defenceman & blue-chip prospect Justin Schultz of Wisconsin?

McKenzie: I'll say the Edmonton Oilers because I think this Kelowna kid would be happy to play in Canada. I also think it would be great for him to grow old with guys like Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall and he's the missing piece of the puzzle in Edmonton: power play quarterback.

Schultz is being described as one of the best prospects in the game, and his scouting report suggests a wide range of skills including size and speed. His Desjardins NHLE--the number implied by his current NCAA season if placed into the NHL--is 82, 15-25-40. In other words, he'd be at the front of the line offensively for the Oiler group (I'd also include Whitney and Petry as players who could hit 40 points from the current roster).

SOMETHING FROM THE PAST

This recalls the old Oilers, the Sather Oilers. They pulled more good defensemen out of nowhere than Carter has liver pills. In fact, the golden era of Oiler hockey featured some guys who didn't hit the big time on their draft day:

THE FIRST STANLEY TEAM'S BLUE (1984)

  • Paul Coffey, taken 6th overall in 1980
  • Kevin Lowe, taken 21st overall in 1979
  • Charlie Huddy, signed as a free agent in 1979 after passing through undrafted
  • Randy Gregg, signed October 1982 at age 26 after two years in Japan. Never drafted.
  • Lee Fogolin, acquired from Buffalo at the expansion draft.
  • Don Jackson, acquired in a hockey deal for Donny Murdoch.

So the Oilers got healthy in a hurry, by using the draft and several other avenues to acquire talent. Schultz would fall into the "Randy Gregg" or "Charlie Huddy" category in that he'll be available to all NHL teams.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Could mean nothing. The other 29 teams have a story to tell and Edmonton's future--while bright--is in the distance. A team like Pittsburgh, or Boston, or Vancouver could offer this player a chance to start in the penthouse and that' has some appeal.

Still, there's a chance and I'm sure the Oilers are preparing for the opportunity. There might also be some back room wheeling and dealing, whereby Edmonton sends an asset (pick or prospect) to Anaheim for the right to talk to this young man before everyone else gets a chance.

It's risky, and a little daring. Sounds like something Glen Sather might have done 30 years ago.

Previously in the series:

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 The Beaker
March 29 2012, 08:32AM
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What does Steve Yzerman think of him?

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#2 Oilfan69
March 29 2012, 08:12AM
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Would be nice to get a top flight defencemen without having to spend a FIST pick on him.

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#3 John Chambers
March 29 2012, 08:57AM
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@I'm a Scientist!

Let's not downplay the allure of the booger sugar. Besides yayo, E-town is an attractive place to play because the summers are long, gas prices are low, and you can take the LRT to work!

That should be the cover page of the pitch to Schultz - the LRT!

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#4 freeze
March 29 2012, 08:31AM
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If it is risky and daring then I suspect it is well out of Tambo's field of vision.

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#5 I'm a Scientist!
March 29 2012, 08:43AM
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I love that he has a salary cap attached to the situation. No team can outbid another.

Then again, if i am a 21 year old stud and the sunny beaches of LA come calling...ya... that is where i go, date numerous smoking hot starlets, surf as my summer training, get an awesome tan while watching hot girls in bikinis do yoga on the beach and start a coke habit. In Edmonton, the only thing he could do is start the coke habit. Hm.

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#6 Dipstick
March 29 2012, 09:59AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Teams have successfully lured free agents using current team members to convince the target to sign. It was a call from Iginla, a fellow Edmontonian and team captain, that helped convince Bouwmeester to sign in Calgary.

In this case, I don't think it should be Horc that calls Schultz. Let the kids talk to him. This is the group that he will grow with. If he feels that this is a group of guys he'd like to spend the next 5-6 years with, that will put the Oilers at the top of the list. Hall, Eberle, RNH and I also think Petry should talk to him. Petry went the college path and can atest to what they're building here and the opportunity to grow your own game in this environment.

As long as they don't ask Tikkanen to call him.

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#7 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
March 29 2012, 08:12AM
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props oilfan

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#8 The Beaker
March 29 2012, 08:27AM
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Can the Oilers offer other perks other than just the cash? (Besides the obvious Hall, RNH, Eberle reasons he should come here?)

I'd be VERY impressed with Tambellini if he could pull this off. I'm not a fan of Tambellini.

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#9 Petr's Jofa
March 29 2012, 10:07AM
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Play by play nighmare?

Smid-Petry

Schultz-Schultz

Taylor Fedun - Fedor Tyutin

Plus 3 Ryans up front.

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#10 Dipstick
March 29 2012, 10:43AM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

Play by play nighmare?

Smid-Petry

Schultz-Schultz

Taylor Fedun - Fedor Tyutin

Plus 3 Ryans up front.

I bet that Tikkanen could do that play by play!

*considers propping himself for using Tikkanen in two posts on one thread*

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#11 speeds
March 29 2012, 09:41AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Word is he wants a one way deal. Anaheim isn't prepared to give him that just yet. The Oilers could offer him that though. We're a year or two from even making the playoffs.

No one can offer him a one way deal, he's too young and would fall under the ELC system.

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#12 book¡e
March 29 2012, 09:44AM
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@Bryzarro World

Well, that negativity exists here at ON and Sheldon Souray doesn't like them, but I don't know if that is a universal feeling across the league.

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#13 Quicksilver ballet
March 29 2012, 07:09PM
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Money is a universal language.

Katz needs to open that petty cash drawer and slip a 2 million dollar incentive bonus Justins way to put the Oilers offer at the forefront of his mind when the time comes.

As for the rest of that two yr agreement it could go by the book. A token fair well offering like this would go along way to having him lean towards the Oiler offer.

If you ain't cheatin, you ain't competing....period.

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#14 dawgtoy
March 29 2012, 08:16AM
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One Schultz is good, two are better. It's a no brainer IMO.

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#15 Truth
March 29 2012, 08:26AM
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Now I'm going to be dissapointed if Schultz does anything but sign here.

Do it up Tambellini.

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#16 Sloppy Joe
March 29 2012, 08:32AM
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I suppose the other benefit of signing with Edmonton is that he knows he'll hold a decent slot in the depth chart - a place he might not have if he signs with a "penthouse team." I'm no sports psychologist, but you have to imagine that the prospect of ice time has got to be high on the priority list (I dare say higher than playing on a good team).

It seems to me that the problem - blue chip prospect and NHLEs be damned - is that it's a bit of a gamble on whether his talents will carry over against NHL opposition. Cam Barker was a blue chip prospect too at one point in time.

I'm, not against signing him by any means, he's just less of a guarantee than some of the other names on your list.

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#17 Matt Henderson
March 29 2012, 08:36AM
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It's almost too good to be true. I've been conditioned to believe it wont happen but the annual off-season of Hope might be starting a little early for me this year.

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#18 Quicksilver ballet
March 29 2012, 08:39AM
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Schultz is a unique opportunity if the Oilers fail to land an experienced No.1 guy for the back end. If Edmonton falls out of the top 4 in Junes entry draft they could end up with two possible kids who may grow into that position. Schultz is a good plan B option. He's a better opportunity compared to the others paraded by on ON the last few weeks.

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#19 Lexi
March 29 2012, 09:14AM
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Does anyone have any sense why he hasn't signed with Anaheim? Is it just to wait out for this UFA time. I'm assuming there are "back-channel" ways to see how interested he would be in signing here without tampering.

The one article I saw on him mentioned he might be waiting out the CBA before leaving school. At this point would staying one more year in NCAA potentially stunt his development, versus playing in the AHL in case there is a lockout.

If a third round draft pick can get the rights to sign him before this year's draft that seems like a reasonable gamble.

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#20 book¡e
March 29 2012, 09:16AM
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The career allure of Edmonton has to be a strong incentive - playing on one of the top PP's in the league is going to help out a lot in a guys next contract.

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#21 Truth
March 29 2012, 09:27AM
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@I'm a Scientist!

He has until July 1st to sign in sunny Anaheim. It sounds like that is exactly what he does not want to do if McKenzie is saying the Oilers are a front runner to sign him, not Anaheim.

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#22 Bryzarro World
March 29 2012, 09:28AM
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Do you think any of the negativity surrounding our office staff would impact his choice if in fact we were one of his top picks?

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#23 Semenko and Troy
March 29 2012, 09:35AM
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In one article (or interview) it was said that his priority was to sign with a team where he could play in a starting rotation right away.

That may be all the allure he needs.

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#24 Quicksilver ballet
March 29 2012, 09:36AM
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@Lexi

Word is he wants a one way deal. Anaheim isn't prepared to give him that just yet. The Oilers could offer him that though. We're a year or two from even making the playoffs.

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#25 DieHard
March 29 2012, 09:38AM
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His hometown (Westbank) is my hometown. Would be really cool to have him be an Oiler.

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#26 Jonathan Willis
March 29 2012, 09:47AM
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What speeds said: no team can offer Schultz anything but an ELC (which is a two-way deal). Anyway, rumour has it Anaheim offered to put him in the NHL immediately. And no team can offer any significant difference in money.

It's entirely based on where he wants to play.

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#27 Quicksilver ballet
March 29 2012, 09:47AM
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@speeds

As a UFA, he'd have far fewer restrictions though wouldn't he? That loophole may wipe out that whole ELC thing. I could be wrong again.

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#28 book¡e
March 29 2012, 09:49AM
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speeds wrote:

No one can offer him a one way deal, he's too young and would fall under the ELC system.

Yep, ELC's are automatically 2-way with really limited compensation in the AHL ($70,000 max), so the depth of the team will be important for him if he wants to play in the NHL. Thank goodness the Oilers have the least depth of any NHL team out there.

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#29 Ianf
March 29 2012, 09:57AM
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Two J. Shultzs? That would put us over the top next year.

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#30 Lochenzo
March 29 2012, 09:58AM
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Teams have successfully lured free agents using current team members to convince the target to sign. It was a call from Iginla, a fellow Edmontonian and team captain, that helped convince Bouwmeester to sign in Calgary.

In this case, I don't think it should be Horc that calls Schultz. Let the kids talk to him. This is the group that he will grow with. If he feels that this is a group of guys he'd like to spend the next 5-6 years with, that will put the Oilers at the top of the list. Hall, Eberle, RNH and I also think Petry should talk to him. Petry went the college path and can atest to what they're building here and the opportunity to grow your own game in this environment.

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#31 DieHard
March 29 2012, 09:59AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

What speeds said: no team can offer Schultz anything but an ELC (which is a two-way deal). Anyway, rumour has it Anaheim offered to put him in the NHL immediately. And no team can offer any significant difference in money.

It's entirely based on where he wants to play.

It would be nice to land him (I think) - BUT - Anaheim did draft him. What's the honorable thing for him to do? Hate to have the reverse happen to the Oilers.

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#32 Lochenzo
March 29 2012, 10:12AM
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Dipstick wrote:

As long as they don't ask Tikkanen to call him.

Maybe he'll be so confused by Tikk-talk that he'll just go ahead and sign on the dotted line.

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#33 justDOit
March 29 2012, 10:13AM
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Bob McK says the Oilers are missing a PP QB? I thought Petry was doing quite well in that role lately.

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#34 Dan the Man
March 29 2012, 10:13AM
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DieHard wrote:

It would be nice to land him (I think) - BUT - Anaheim did draft him. What's the honorable thing for him to do? Hate to have the reverse happen to the Oilers.

The same thing may happen to the Oilers with Kyle Bigos next year. If Bigos decides to go back to college for another year he will be a UFA next summer.

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#35 Dan the Man
March 29 2012, 10:16AM
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Possible Oilers pitch to Schultz: Our defense is so bad, you're guaranteed lots of minutes.

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#36 Petr's Jofa
March 29 2012, 10:18AM
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Topic needs more Sgt. Shultz resets.

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#37 book¡e
March 29 2012, 10:18AM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

Play by play nighmare?

Smid-Petry

Schultz-Schultz

Taylor Fedun - Fedor Tyutin

Plus 3 Ryans up front.

and now the nicknames

Smids - Pets

Schultzy - Schultzy

Feds - Feds

Seriously, the league should import some nickname developers from the 1940s when people had nickames like 'Crusher'.

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DieHard wrote:

It would be nice to land him (I think) - BUT - Anaheim did draft him. What's the honorable thing for him to do? Hate to have the reverse happen to the Oilers.

It's just one of things that happens. Can't exactly sit on your hands when 28 other GM's will be making offers.

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#39 bazmagoo
March 29 2012, 10:29AM
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@Lowetide and Oilers Nation

Does anyone know what the maximum salary he can be signed for is?

Seems like an interesting prospect, and if tiny face (McKenzie) is saying it's a distinct possibility it probably has legs.

One more Schultz and one more Ryan (Murray) and the roster will be near completion. Still missing that #1 goalie and top 6 size, but maybe Dubby can make that his next season.

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#40 Petr's Jofa
March 29 2012, 10:34AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

It's just one of things that happens. Can't exactly sit on your hands when 28 other GM's will be making offers.

You are correct. Mr Tambillini will not be sitting on his hands. He has been evaluiating Justin for years and feels that he will be able to have a very good feel for this prospect once he complete his senior year.

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#42 bazmagoo
March 29 2012, 10:41AM
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@Lowetide

Thanks for the link.

So is it possible he gets an entry level contract similar to RNH where the cap hit is $3.775 million? Or am I missing something?

If he has to sign an entry level deal, I'd say it's quite possible that ice time would be a major factor in where he signs considering he would make about 90% less (or more) if he's in the AHL.

Great article btw.

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#43 stevezie
March 29 2012, 10:44AM
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Is he so good he is seen as the other top-4 we're missing? That seems a little optimistic to me. I would still try hard to sign him, I just hope that's in addition to, not instead of tracking down one more proven NHL vet.

If we should get them both, Sutton will become number 7, not 6, and Peckham and Potter will be farm hands or, more likely in Theo's case, playing somewhere else.

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#44 justDOit
March 29 2012, 10:48AM
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Dipstick wrote:

I bet that Tikkanen could do that play by play!

*considers propping himself for using Tikkanen in two posts on one thread*

No consideration required - that's an AUTOMATIC!

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#45 bazmagoo
March 29 2012, 10:49AM
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@stevezie

Everyone seems to think he's the most solid prospect playing college hockey, so hopefully he can at least slot into the top 6 and work his way up (if we end up signing him).

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#46 DieHard
March 29 2012, 10:51AM
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Dan the Man wrote:

The same thing may happen to the Oilers with Kyle Bigos next year. If Bigos decides to go back to college for another year he will be a UFA next summer.

Bigos is not a high-end top prospect while Schultz is. There's a big difference.

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#47 Dan the Man
March 29 2012, 11:12AM
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DieHard wrote:

Bigos is not a high-end top prospect while Schultz is. There's a big difference.

I wasn't comparing the 2 as prospects, just the fact that the Oilers could lose a prospect in a similar fashion. Bigos does sound like he might be a useful player though. By most reports he's big, mean and mobile.

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#48 I'm a Scientist!
March 29 2012, 11:32AM
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Sure would be nice to know if we could sign him BEFORE the draft. Do we still go for Murray/Dumba/other defensive stud if we get Schultz? I would think that Schultz would take Murray's spot and that we have enough goodies on the shelf (Kelfbomb...etc.) that maybe Murray wouldn't be the most effective pick.

I worry that we are running low on quality farm forwards. Draft a forward with our high pick, then draft a D. No?

Unfortunately, the draft is first.

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#49 Dark Passenger
March 29 2012, 11:40AM
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And into the black.

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#50 Dog Train
March 29 2012, 12:03PM
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This is the best entry yet. Schultz is legitimately available, and he is a right handed shot which we desperately need. We were apparently interested in Hartnell when Nashville shipped his rights to Philly before he was available so we should definitely stay in the loop and it would be nice to get a chance to speak to him before the other suitors. This would be a nice get IMO.

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