Justin Schultz would solve a lot of problems for the Edmonton Oilers

Jonathan Willis
April 27 2012 12:45AM

This summer, it’s highly likely that prized Anaheim Ducks defensive prospect Justin Schultz will become an unrestricted free agent. While the NHL’s other 29 teams – including the Oilers – would all undoubtedly love to get a hold of him, Edmonton might be a uniquely appropriate fit.

If Schultz sees things that way, the Oilers could address a lot of problems immediately.

First, why might Schultz consider the Oilers? Do we have any evidence that he’s leaning toward landing in Edmonton?

On the second point, there’s no way of knowing exactly what Schultz is thinking right now. However, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie – as connected a reporter as there is in hockey – said last month that he thought the Edmonton Oilers had the best chance at landing Justin Schultz.

At a certain level, it makes sense. Schultz will need to sign an entry-level deal with whichever team drafts him, which means a two-way contract that could see him demoted to the minors. The best way to prevent that from happening is to join a team with an anemic defense – and for once, that weakness might work in the Oilers’ favour. Additionally, Schultz would presumably like to play for a team that has some chance of competing in the next few years. It’s not easy to find a team that combines potential with a miserable defense, and the Oilers are uniquely positioned in that regard.

Schultz currently plays college hockey at the University of Wisconsin, but he’s from Kelowna originally, so playing in Western Canada might appeal.

What would the Oilers be getting? In the link above, I include profiles by McKeen’s Hockey as well as prospect expert Corey Pronman, who describes Schultz as “filthy good” and having the ability to “control the game.”

As it happens, though, we’ve had two posts up at the Nation Network worth reading. First, there’s Jason Gregor’s conversation with Mike Eaves, Schultz’s coach in Wisconsin. It’s an excellent post that I highly recommend reading, but one of the things that struck me was Eaves’ commentary on Schultz’s character:

[H]e's wired as a real competitive young man. When he was a freshman, we were playing North Dakota. There was a little incident at the end of the game, and he wanted to jump off the bench and go get involved and take care of his teammates and such. He has a real fiery kind of competitive edge within him, and that's rare when you combine it with the fact that he is a very skilled hockey player.

There’s also Jeff Angus’ take on Canucks Army; Angus spoke with Chuck Schwartz (who covers the University of Wisconsin Badgers) about Schultz. Schwartz had nothing but good things to say about Schultz:

No question that Schultz is NHL ready right now. In my opinion he's unquestionably the top blue-liner playing college hockey right now. Remember that Schultz was a first -team All-American last season, and was widely considered to have a better season than Gardiner, who has had a pretty nice rookie season in Toronto. He's ready to make the move.

Schultz is a 21-year old right-handed shot with good size, offensive flair, and a burgeoning defensive game. He’d offer the Oilers a second blue-liner in the same mold as Jeff Petry, but one with an even higher ceiling to his game (Petry’s college numbers at the same age, while respectable, pale in comparison to Schultz’s). Along with Petry and Smid, the addition of Schultz would fill three of the top-four spots on the Oilers long-term plan.

Schultz could be a cornerstone piece in a position of need, and along with Nail Yakupov would make this summer a pretty clear win for the Oilers organization.

Now, Steve Tambellini just needs to convince him to sign in Edmonton.

This week by Jonathan Willis at the Nation Network

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 book¡e
April 27 2012, 10:20AM
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Scouting Reports, what kind of crap is that, if you can't tell what kind of player a guy is from watching youtube, then you probably shouldn't be in the business.

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#2 book¡e
April 27 2012, 09:24AM
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Imagine - Worst Summer Ever!

Tambellini, in Europe, looks down at his iPhone to see a twitter comment that this 'Shultz Guy' is an available Free Agent and could be a top notch defenseman. Having taken a lot of critisism about 'being the only team to NOT talk to Nail Yakupov' Tambellini immediately phones Shultz agent and sends a tweet out to the media saying We are in the hunt for Justin Shultz.

Soon after, Gary Bettman finds the Oilers guilty of tampering and fines the Oilers their first overall pick this year and prevents the Oilers from signing Shultz.

Lowe, busily preparing for the World's is unaware of all of this and announces a three year contract extension for Tambellini the next day.

At that moment, Taylor Hall is driving down the road listening to Gregor on the radio - he finds himself in a state of 'stunned disbelief' at the contract extension, causing him to crash his car. He breaks his Pubis Thingy in the accident resulting in him being a serviceable fourth liner for the rest of his career.

When RNH hears the news about Hall's injury, he is eating a Hot Dog, unfortunatly, his mother did not cut the wiener into smaller, non-chokable, pieces...

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#3 Rob
April 27 2012, 01:47AM
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@ J.W.

"Now, Steve Tambellini just needs to convince him to sign in Edmonton"

You make a very logical case for signing this player...up until you mention Tamby's name and it sends chills up my spine to think such key negotiations are in he hands of ST. I can't think of a poorer architect for the job.

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#4 J-Dogg
April 27 2012, 01:57AM
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I want someone to describe me as "filthy good".

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#5 TigerUnderGlass
April 27 2012, 09:09AM
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Why do people immediately begin questioning a player's character whenever they take advantage of a rule to their benefit?

This has nothing to do with thinking he's special, it has to do with the fact that he has the rare opportunity to choose where he wishes to play. Why wouldn't he use it? He would be an idiot not to take advantage.

Maybe the Oilers should have told Columbus to go ahead and pick first since they actually finished last - that would be the right thing to do right?

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#7 Lenny
April 27 2012, 12:52AM
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Fist up for Shults!

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#8 Ryley
April 27 2012, 01:00AM
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Signing Schultz, drafting yakupov, signing tootoo and trading gagner and next years first for Jordan staal would make this summer a win! Hall Hopkins eberle Prv staal yakupov Hartikainen horcoff hemsky Tootoo petrell jones

Smid Petry Whitney Schultz N. Schultz potter

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#9 Jesse
April 27 2012, 01:42AM
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I feel like I'm getting my hopes up too much about this....

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#10 Lenny
April 27 2012, 12:55AM
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Schultz! First fist!

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#11 Reg Dunlop
April 27 2012, 01:30AM
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US collegate defenceman. A great prospect but still a prospect. If we can sign him, great, but we still need a proven NHL Dman.

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#12 Petr's Jofa
April 27 2012, 04:51AM
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Can never have enough Schultz

"I zee NUTING! I know NUTING!"

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#13 sizedoesmatter
April 27 2012, 05:51AM
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@ jay dog, your neeed for self approval is filthy good

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#14 CC
April 27 2012, 07:46AM
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JW,

Two quick questions; i. I think everyone is on board with the Oilers pursuing Schultz. What do you think it would take to acquire his rights prior to July 1st? Would you trade a player like Omark (who could play a top 6 role in Ana) and a conditional pick if you are able to sign him?

ii. If you're the Oilers GM, and you are able to land Schultz. Do you make a play on any other big name Free Agents? Or are you comfortable with a top 5 of Smid-Petry, Schultz-Schultz - Whitney-Spare part (Sutton/Teubert/Potter/or sign a lower level free agent).

Reason I'm asking if you sign a free agent like Garrison, Wideman, Carle ... You will likely need to sign them to a 4 year contract, and you would need to internally ask if the FA players in years 3 and 4 are going to be substantially better than the prospect base that you have (Klefbom, Musil & Marincin) and from a cap management perspective you would not want to pay someone big money to play on the third pairing, but there is risk expecting a rookie defenseman to play top 4 minutes.

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#15 Oiler Al
April 27 2012, 09:39AM
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Go for Shultz, but also chase Garrison.

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#16 Lexi
April 27 2012, 10:41AM
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Schultz is pretty much a zero risk signing as he will cost practically nothing and the reality is the average fan will have minimal expectations of him, so if he's worse than advertised I don't see a huge problem. Signing someone like Garrison or Wideman for 4 yr has a much bigger risk of the fanbase turning on those guys.

My sense is he already knows where he is going with the most likely destinations being Toronto, Rangers, Vancouver or Detroit. The Oilers pitch should be some Dman is going to get 40 pts a year on our PP why not you, plus look at how much further $950,000 goes in Edmonton vs Van, Tor, NY.

If I had to bet he will be signing in Toronto, as Burke drafted him and his past with Gardiner. If he goes to Tor, then they have to get rid of one of their D, and I hope the Oil could then get Gunnerson on the cheap. I believe Schen is basically a negative asset because he is overpaid, so to me anymore than Omark and a 2nd rd pick is an overpayment for him.

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#17 Lochenzo
April 27 2012, 11:11AM
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I think this was the sole motivation for trading for Nick Schultz. Great way to break the ice with Justin. "Hey, you related to Nick?"

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#18 Ontarioil
April 27 2012, 12:10PM
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I had a conversation with a friend who knew justin and played with him in Kelowna growing up, said he was the probably the best player on the ice but people wouldn't always notice him, he would often put up 3 point games with people hardly noticing. Said he was a team guy but wouldn't come along for the hard partying his teammates would do.

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#20 DieHard
April 27 2012, 04:00PM
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What does this kid want? The initial money during his ELC is not it. The California coast, girls and sunshine - doesn't look like it. That should also eliminate the Kings. Big city night life? Well he just said no to LA. Maybe he wants an easier travel schedule so that pretty much points to the North East. No, I really don't think so. He can't demand prime icetime and such cause he'll have a 2-way contract and can be demoted. I kind of like what Bob MacKenzie said. The Oilers will be his choice. This could be the start of Boys on the Bus 2. He plays the part of Coffee.

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#21 sizedoesmatter
April 27 2012, 05:57AM
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I would rather the Oiler sign free agent Justin Shultz,Than to try and trade for An expensive free agent. I dont believe next year is the time to chase free agents.But in 2014 when the Oilers make the cup run that is a differant story

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#22 BlacqueJacque
April 27 2012, 07:08AM
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Haha it's like a highlight reel of a forward vs really bad goaltending. Soft wristers from the point beat goalies on 5 goals to my count.

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#23 Oilcruzer
April 27 2012, 07:11AM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

I would rather the Oiler sign free agent Justin Shultz,Than to try and trade for An expensive free agent. I dont believe next year is the time to chase free agents.But in 2014 when the Oilers make the cup run that is a differant story

He's FA this summer. No? Don't think anything else is suggested.

I see him a year ahead of the rest of the rooks. None of them have experience in the show so ya, it is a crap shoot. Thats fine It's better to have more throws in a crap shoot.

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#24 They're $hittie
April 27 2012, 07:32AM
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someone start a #schultzforoilers campaign. Lets show him that the city and organization want this guy.

We should also trade potter or peckham for the rights to Suter. Its a long shot and maybe more than what we want to pay, and maybe Nashville still signs him. We have too many guys in that number 6-10 slot and not enough room in OKC. these two will have to clear waivers, get some value out of them please.

Oh, BTW the depth is on RW and Lower LW not at center. These are the pieces that will be traded to acquire a D if going this route.

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#25 Prudham's
April 27 2012, 08:27AM
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I really hope he signs with the Oilers. The thing is - McKenzie IS the best and most connected commentator, but there's nothing that indicated to me that he has inside information on this one. He was asked to pick a team, and he picked one. Based on the language he used, I think he's just saying it's his best guess. Hope I'm either wrong, or that the Oilers sign him anyway!

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#26 Dman09
April 27 2012, 08:32AM
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The only why he could be more appealing is if his Name was Ryan Schultz :) But really, there is no way signing this guy could be any worse of an option than Barker or Peckham were last season so I don't see why people should be second guessing this guy. I say sign him.

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#28 CaptainLander
April 27 2012, 08:59AM
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If he goes to UFA he will have 29 teams interested. True outside of Columbus the Oil may give him the best opportunity to play I would would hope he would choose the Oil if this is his goal. Then again if he is as good as the Oiler media seems to be saying why would he not choose a team where he can learn from the best. If Suter finds a new home this summer there is a big hole left on the back end in Nashville. Is this guy better the Blum or the other young D-men in Nashville? If so he may have an opportunity to play and learn from arguably the best young D-man in the league. Or play on a team with Lidstrom assuming he comes back for another year. I have seem 100 posts about this guy and think is a little to much hope on a crap shoot.

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#29 Rick
April 27 2012, 09:01AM
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Everything you read about this guy suggests that he is what Edmonton needs, until you get to the part of pointing out what hole Edmonton needs to fill.

Tying this in with Lowetide's last posting, Edmonton needs to not only find guys that can help but put them in positions where they can be a pleasant surprise. Not put them in a position where they may be seen as a disappointment.

Case in point is Barker VS Potter. It's a common theme amongst fans that Barker wasn't worth spit where as Potter would qualify as a nice find (in reality neither of them are worth a second consideration but that's a different topic). Barker was brought in to play in the top 4 and failed where as Potter was a guy that may compete for a spot. Drastically different expectations.

Is it really a good fit for both team and player if they bring him with the expectation that he could step into the top 4?

The other question I would ask is; to what extent the players are as good as think they are in situations where they feel they are important enough to call their own shots prior to ever stepping foot on an NHL ice surface?

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#31 Shredder
April 27 2012, 09:11AM
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I'm sorry, but I"m still confused as to why Anaheim is going to let him go? If he's so good, why don't they sign him, or trade him to someone who thinks they can sign him?

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#32 Rama Lama
April 27 2012, 09:11AM
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It would be nice to hear something from the Oilers on this guy? Since he is not a first round draft choice, I am sure that Tamby has not heard of him!

It was not that long ago that Tamby thought Yakapov was a wild Russian goat.

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#33 book¡e
April 27 2012, 09:17AM
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Shredder wrote:

I'm sorry, but I"m still confused as to why Anaheim is going to let him go? If he's so good, why don't they sign him, or trade him to someone who thinks they can sign him?

I believe that he is unwilling to sign with Anaheim - most likley because he is fortunate enough to fit through a loophole which gives him his choice of teams.

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#34 book¡e
April 27 2012, 09:18AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

It would be nice to hear something from the Oilers on this guy? Since he is not a first round draft choice, I am sure that Tamby has not heard of him!

It was not that long ago that Tamby thought Yakapov was a wild Russian goat.

I don't believe the Oilers are permitted to say anything about 'this guy' because his rights are currently held by another team. Just about any comment right now would be considered Tampering.

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#35 Rick
April 27 2012, 09:22AM
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@ JW

Not right away and not for the team that he manipulated his move to.

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#36 TigerUnderGlass
April 27 2012, 09:28AM
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Rick wrote:

@ JW

Not right away and not for the team that he manipulated his move to.

He had 21 goals and 45 points as a rookie. He was also second on the team with a +36. This all happened in under 14 minutes a game.

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#37 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 27 2012, 09:40AM
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After watching those two videos, he looks okay amongst all those future doctors, accountants and lawyers. He won't have those same softer opponents when he reaches the NHL. He looks like another Tom Gilbert to me. One hip check between the two videos. Doesn't scream future No.1 or 2 d'man to me.

If he does sign here, could we package him up and send him to Florida for Shae Weber jr (Gudbranson)? That kid is meaner than a junkyard dog.

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#38 rick
April 27 2012, 09:42AM
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@tigerunderglass

I didn't say he wasn't able to play just like I have no doubt, based on what popular opinion seems to be, that Schultz could play.

I am pointing out that even in Wheeler's case he wasn't what he was supposed to be when he was the next hot commodity. He came in and was serviceable and ultimately deemed expendable to a team that was contending calibre.

Only this last year he started to look like he could be more than a serviceable depth player.

To me it is a good example of the pitfalls of bringing in a guy with more fanfare than experience or actual known NHL qualities especially when you're going to pretty much hand him prime real estate and the spot light that goes with it.

I guess what my point reduces to is; bring him in based on what his potential is but make enough other moves to ensure that he isn't being brought in as THE answer you've been looking for.

Give both him and the team a chance to succeed and that starts by not using terms such as 'potential cornerstone' or even implying he will immediately be a top 4 guy for this team.

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#39 Oilcruzer
April 27 2012, 09:50AM
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Exactly... Anaheim can't force him to sign.

He'd be crazy to try sign elsewhere before UFA day.

The vid reminds me of a Chorney or Petry a year ago.

There's nothing magic there, a decent wrist shot, a little slow getting the big shot off.

and, it's U.S. College. How many times have we heard "this guy was the Hokey Baker (sic) finalist..."

Big deal. A mitt full of accolades looks good on the wall. Show us on the ice.

(I'm trying to water down the kool-aid a bit here)

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#40 LoDog
April 27 2012, 10:28AM
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Only the 12th article on Schultz in the last month, I think you need some new material.

At least you omitted when he can be signed from this one.

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#41 They're $hittie
April 27 2012, 10:50AM
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How many top forwards are a ppg in NCAA. Noy that many. Yhis guy has been doing it for years as a defensemen. Seems very much like Petry, who was a fringe player last year, now look at him.

Risk free signing.

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#42 bazmagoo
April 27 2012, 11:14AM
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A few things to consider:

Schultz is a solid prospect but still unproven. He could have a great NHL career or he could have 1-2 years in the league and not make it any further.

Schultz will make $875,000 in the NHL next season or $87,500 (estimate) if he ends up playing the season in the AHL.

With these things in mind, it should come down to which team offers him the best chance to play a minimum of 1-2 seasons in the big leagues with the best opportunity to become an consistent NHL player. It would for me if I was in his shoes.

$1,750,000 over the next 2 years compared to $175,000 playing in the AHL is life changing money. For a Western Canadian kid who's spent the last 4 years in the States, I'd say the Oilers are probably looking like a good option.

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#43 TigerUnderGlass
April 27 2012, 01:23PM
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rick wrote:

@tigerunderglass

I didn't say he wasn't able to play just like I have no doubt, based on what popular opinion seems to be, that Schultz could play.

I am pointing out that even in Wheeler's case he wasn't what he was supposed to be when he was the next hot commodity. He came in and was serviceable and ultimately deemed expendable to a team that was contending calibre.

Only this last year he started to look like he could be more than a serviceable depth player.

To me it is a good example of the pitfalls of bringing in a guy with more fanfare than experience or actual known NHL qualities especially when you're going to pretty much hand him prime real estate and the spot light that goes with it.

I guess what my point reduces to is; bring him in based on what his potential is but make enough other moves to ensure that he isn't being brought in as THE answer you've been looking for.

Give both him and the team a chance to succeed and that starts by not using terms such as 'potential cornerstone' or even implying he will immediately be a top 4 guy for this team.

I disagree. Wheeler was exactly as expected. Nobody thinks Schultz is going to be a Norris candidate, just that he is very likely to be a useful player in short order. Why would we not want him on the Oilers? You seem to be confusing "NHL ready" with "NHL Star."

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#44 OutDoorRink
April 27 2012, 01:33PM
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He'd be well worth the effort to sign him. When you get that many accolades from so many different sources, there's got to be a lot to this J Schultz.

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#45 Walter Sobchak
April 27 2012, 01:34PM
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It's risk free and has upside written all over it. If I were Tambellini I would offer Omark for Schultz rights and try to sign him before June 1st.

Shultz is right handed which is deffinetly a added plus.

Top PP time, Top 4 minutes, the ability to to get big points playing with amazing talent. Can Tambellini sell it?

The Oilers still need to go after Garrison, Or Jackman, or Carle.

Draft Yakupov, trade for and sign Schultz, add Garrison via UFA, get Konopka and Tootoo, move up the draft and get Rielly! Pick up Harding via UFA. Trade for big power winger such as Clowe!

Done! At least two rounds of Playoffs!

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#46 book¡e
April 27 2012, 01:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If you can find 12 articles I've written about Justin Schultz, I'll travel to the ends of the Earth, find you a bride who can put up with a husband who can't count and insists others call him 'LoDog', and bring her back to you.

This is my second Justin Schultz post, and my first for Oilers Nation. Jason Gregor and Jeff Angus have discussed him previously, but more from a "what is Justin Schultz" perspective as opposed to a "how does Justin Schultz help the Oilers" perspective.

An article (abbreviated art) is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an, and (in some contexts) some.

Hmm, looks to me like this should be a pretty easy task for LoDog - better get bride searching JW...

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#47 LoDog
April 27 2012, 01:39PM
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@Willis

My post doesn't say you wrote 12 articles about it. I suggested you find some new material as this has been blogged to death. Sorry if my use of hyperbole offended you.

When can Schultz be signed again?

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#48 Rick
April 27 2012, 02:42PM
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@tigerunderglass

Let's just say we disagree on the Wheeler part and move back to the actual topic at hand which is Schultz.

If the point is to bring in a guy that would be a good bet to be a 'useful' player in 'short order' then there isn't much to disagree with.

BUT, the article doesn't imply that and my comments were related to the article.

JW used a description including; 'higher upside than Petry, top 4 and a corner stone'.

Much different from 'useful', no?

At what point do you stop gambling on how to fill your biggest weakness and start taking the improvement of this team a little more seriously?

Signing a guy like that needs to be treated as a luxury, not a solution.

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#49 Dog Train
April 27 2012, 03:02PM
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This would be a nice get IMO. The potential mixed with how much less he would cost than a regular free agent is a huge positive. Obviously, we won't be the only team thinking that way but as you said, we can offer both playing time in the NHL and the potential to turn into a winning team. This doesn't look too bad:

Smid - Petry

Schultz - Schultz

Whitney - Potter/off-season acquisition

Sutton, Peckham

Or something along those lines. Not great, but it's progress.

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#50 Dipstick
April 27 2012, 03:11PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

I think this was the sole motivation for trading for Nick Schultz. Great way to break the ice with Justin. "Hey, you related to Nick?"

Is Taylor Hall related to Brian? God help him!

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