WHO IS JUSTIN SCHULTZ?

Jason Gregor
April 03 2012 01:31PM

Who is Justin Schultz?

By now I'm sure many of you have heard of Schultz, but don't know much about him. He was drafted 43rd overall by the Ducks in 2008, and then he played one more year in the BCJHL before heading to Wisconsin to play for the Badgers. For the past three seasons he's honed his skills under former NHLer Mike Eaves. In the past two seasons he's played 78 games and tallied 34 goals and 91 points.

Schultz was widely considered the best D-man in the NCAA this year, and he was a first-team All-American last year.

Can he help the Oilers? What are his best attributes?

I spoke with Eaves last week to find out what makes Schultz so enticing.

JG: What is the best skill set Schultz has right now?

ME: You can divide his skill set into two parts. First of all, he'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.

His skating ability; his ability with the puck, both puck handing, both shooting the puck; and then his vision of the ice, he has got the whole package in terms of skills. Every day in practice, you can almost bet that he is going to be your hardest working player. So that's a great combination to have; that combination of skills in terms of ability, but then being wired the way he is to work as hard as he does and to be as competitive as he is.

JG: His former teammate, Jake Gardiner, jumped right into the NHL this year and looked good in Toronto. Could you compare those two? Are they similar in style? 


ME: They're similar in some areas. Their skill set in some ways is similar. Jake Gardiner is a very good skater. So is Justin. Their ability to make good passes is there. I think Justin has a little bit more magic offensively. Not that Jake is poor in that, but Justin is just a little bit more gifted in that area in terms of he has got a shot that finds its way through. He knows when to take a little bit off of it to get it through on net, and he can bring it when he has to. And when he gets down around the net, I think that he has the ability and the vision to see a little bit more than Jake. So similar skill sets, but Justin may have just a little bit more magic.

JG: What about his size and strength. Can he take on NHL forwards? 


ME: That's one of the reasons he decided to come back this year. He wanted to get bigger and stronger and be able to compete better in those areas.

It's interesting that you asked that. At the end of last year, Jake (Gardiner) went down and played in the American league after the season. One of the things that he told Justin is that he’d be fine with the skating and the passing, but he said these guys (pro players) are really strong. So coming back this year, Justin wanted to feel like he could kind of control those situations at this level through his strength and body position, and he did that. So he's ready to take that next step now.

JG: If you had to look at a defenseman in the NHL, is there one that you think Schultz is similar to? 


ME: It's hard for me to say that because I don't watch as many games as you do when you're at that level. I'd almost have to go back and into the days when I was coaching or maybe even playing to find a guy, but even that's hard. Somebody else has said that Justin reminds people a little bit of Scott Niedermayer in terms of his ability to play with his skating, and his ability to see the ice and do things, but he's not the biggest of guys as a defenceman. Justin isn't a 6‑foot‑2‑inch, 210. He's a taller, slighter young man, but his ability to do things like Niedermayer did is an awful nice comparison.

JG: How is his defence zone coverage? 


ME: It's probably the area that he's grown the most in terms of body position, in terms of stick position, in terms of understanding where the puck's going defensively and being able to anticipate that. He's done a nice job.

The one thing that's going to jump off the ice is his offensive prowess in terms of jumping in, creating stuff, but as a defensive D-man he really has improved. Billy Butters and I have worked with him on the small things. You look for more detail into his pivots, into his puck position, into how he engages one‑on‑one. Does he keep his stick on the ice and lead with it? Does he blockout at the side of the net when people are trying to get there? These are the kind of areas that he's improved in, and at least at this level he was able to control those areas.

WHY HE IS A PENDING UFA?

Schultz was drafted in 2008, and because it is four years after he's been drafted, so once he officially withdrew from school (had to inform Wisconsin) he was able to become a free agent. He will be a free agent on June 1st,  unless the Ducks sign him, unlikely, or trade his rights before June 1st.

The lineup of teams interested in his services will be long.

It won't become a bidding war because he can only make the maximum base salary of $875,000 on his entry level deal. (He makes the max of the year he was drafted.) Due to his age, he will only be required to sign a two-year entry level deal, not three, and that is why he will want to go to a team where he can play, and hopefully produce, right away.

The Oilers would love to add a right-handed D-man who can run the powerplay. I doubt they'd have any issue with Schultz battling Corey Potter for his spot on the PP.

The Oilers will be like pretty much every other NHL team; they will want to sign him.

An agent, who doesn't represent Schultz said this, "If he was my client I'd recommend he seriously look at the Oilers. They have the trio of Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins so they should improve quickly. Most importantly he could step right in and play on their blueline. He's great on the powerplay and he'd put up some big points, which could earn him a very good 2nd contract."

That is the key for Schultz. Because he only has to sign a two-year deal, theoretically he could sign an extension as early as July of 2013, he will want to play on a team that will give him the best opportunity to put up numbers. Of course he will want to win eventually, but unlike UFAs who are 27 and 28, I think he will be more interested in ensuring he gets an opportunity to play instead of winning right away.

The Rangers are interested and two former teammates, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonough, will likely do their best recruiting job before June 1st. The Leafs want him, and Gardiner and Schultz are supposedly tight, but the Leafs have lots of D-men. The Canucks would love to sign a B.C born player, but they have a solid backend and he might not get as much playing time in Vancouver.

WHY NOT THE DUCKS?

I was unable to get a comment from his representatives as to why Schultz didn't sign with the Ducks. Some might take his not signing as a red flag, but a NHL GM told me that wouldn't stop him from pursuing the BC native. In the past we've seen players drafted by a team, but not sign with them, re-enter the draft, and then sign with their new team and go on to be productive NHLers.

Usually team have to overpay for unrestricted free agents, and rarely is the return worth it. This is a rare case where a team will sign him, and not get burned financially or stuck with a lengthy contract, if he doesn't pan out.

I know the Oilers are interested, and if I'm them I'd be calling the Ducks to see if they could possibly swing a deal before June 1st. You don't give up the farm to get his rights, especially if you think you can sign him after June 1st, but I'd at least make a call to Bob Murray to see if he's interested in dealing Schultz.

***If you are looking at a comparable return...Last summer the Flames dealt Tim Erixon, 2009 draft pick, and a 5th rounder to the Rangers for Roman Horak and two 2nd rounders.***

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Mason Storm
April 03 2012, 01:35PM
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~Gregor why did you interview yourself?~

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#2 Dennis
April 03 2012, 01:37PM
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this is a group that aren't even 100% sure on recall rules so do you think they're forward-thinking enough to trade a pick to get a jump in negots?

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#3 fuzzy muppet
April 03 2012, 01:41PM
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Would Anaheim do an Omark &/or Peckham/pick for Schultz's rights type of trade??

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#4 CaptainLander
April 03 2012, 01:44PM
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As I see the Oilers D next year there is space for 3 new player

Smid Petry Whitney Schultz ??? ??? ???

Extras at this point Sutton, Potter

Does this guy give us enough? I don't think so. Is he really that much better than a Klefbolm? Maybe, hard to tell, maybe more offense. You find a way to make it this:

Whitney Suter Smid Petry Schutlz Schultz Klefbolm

Sutton, Potter (Step in what needed)

Now I would be happy with the Oilers D.

Address the Goaltending and add some scoring depth and grit up front, maybe, just maybe we can make a playoff push.

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#5 Nick Dynasty
April 03 2012, 01:47PM
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Hard to feel bad for the Ducks when the same thing happened to us with Riley Nash. Considering the Canes gave us a 2nd round pick for Nash (former 1st rounder) I would hope we wouldn't have to give up more than that to get the rights for Schultz. Tim Erixon (another former 1st rounder) netted the Flames two 2nd rounders from the Rangers in the same situation last year.

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#6 freeze
April 03 2012, 01:48PM
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At what point can a trade be made? Is it only after the regular season or once eliminated from the playoffs?

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#7 Lochenzo
April 03 2012, 01:48PM
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Ah, the advantage of sucking! Look Justin! You're good enough to make the Oiler's top 6. Sign here!

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#8 RexLibris
April 03 2012, 01:59PM
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Adding Schultz this June along with another top five pick would move this team fairly solidly into their next phase of the rebuild. It would jumpstart the defensive corps and allow for some more time to develop Marincin, Klefbom and company.

Certainly, it seems the Oilers have some tantilizing incentives for him to wish to join here.

I wonder if the Oilers would have Hall or Eberle give him a call as a free agent (or before if they are negotiating a trade with Anaheim and receive permission) to sell him on the team and city.

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#9 Truth
April 03 2012, 02:03PM
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Mason Storm wrote:

~Gregor why did you interview yourself?~

HA!

Great article Gregor. I'll say it once again, now I will be dissapointed if the Oilers don't sign this guy. I would definitely give them a pick knowing he would sign here.

It is worrisome that he has held out from signing in Anaheim. I have and always will despise Eli Manning for those antics (and Lindros, but he is less despisable, it was the Nordiques FFS). But Schultz not signing in Anaheim must mean he has a destination in mind, especially considering the term and amount is capped. I just find it hard to imagine that the destination would be Edmonton. I hope.

Schultz - Schultz, Dumba - Smid, Petry - Klefbom, Teubert - Whitney

(in no particular order)

Do it up.

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#10 Quicksilver ballet
April 03 2012, 02:11PM
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Is there "any" chance he's looking for an undeclared inducement to help sway his decision, an incentive to help get him and his family going/established?

I'd have to believe if Katz opened his petty cash drawer and slid Justin a 2 million dollar inducement it would go along way at having him lean the Oilers when the opportunity presented itself. The rest of his deal (signing bonus and salary) could go by the book though.

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

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#11 RossCreekNation
April 03 2012, 02:17PM
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Would be a major coup for the Oil if they landed him. I've heard he's better than Gardiner from some & as you mention, Gardiner was able to make the jump right out of college. Here's hoping they DON'T land him... ;-)

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#12 esa tikkanen
April 03 2012, 02:27PM
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While I hope he signs with the Oilers, if he goes to June 1 I bet the Canucks have a good chance. He is from Kelowna, is probably a Canucks fan, and the Canucks could promise to trade Sami Salo and open up that spot for Schultz. The Canucks could probably get a decent asset for Salo and get Schultz on the first unit PP with Edler and the Sedins, thus racking up points while playing on a powerhouse team.

That's what I would do if I were Gillis, and he is quite a bit smarter than the other GM's. He actually has a degree unlike the two dingbats who run the Oilers.

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#13 DSF
April 03 2012, 02:37PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

While I hope he signs with the Oilers, if he goes to June 1 I bet the Canucks have a good chance. He is from Kelowna, is probably a Canucks fan, and the Canucks could promise to trade Sami Salo and open up that spot for Schultz. The Canucks could probably get a decent asset for Salo and get Schultz on the first unit PP with Edler and the Sedins, thus racking up points while playing on a powerhouse team.

That's what I would do if I were Gillis, and he is quite a bit smarter than the other GM's. He actually has a degree unlike the two dingbats who run the Oilers.

Salo is a UFA at the end of the season and the Canucks ARE looking to replace him.

If Shultz wants a primo PP opportunity...there it is.

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#15 Senator Theo
April 03 2012, 02:53PM
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Could the Oilers make room for him? It would be a real Schultz-show around here.

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#16 Hat Pughes
April 03 2012, 03:03PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

Could the Oilers make room for him? It would be a real Schultz-show around here.

and if Im on the Oil scounting staff Im looking for the guy with the handle of "Ryan Schultz" -- that would be right over the top.

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#17 etownman
April 03 2012, 03:29PM
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DSF wrote:

Salo is a UFA at the end of the season and the Canucks ARE looking to replace him.

If Shultz wants a primo PP opportunity...there it is.

Ya esa, whose the dingbat??

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Whether or not Schultz ever play a NHL game or not, the Oilers need to be looking at him. This is a real low risk move that won't hurt us if he never turns out to be a NHLer.

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#19 bazmagoo
April 03 2012, 03:57PM
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If I was Schultz I'd be going to my best opportunity to make the NHL team, and Edmonton has that to offer. Could be a win-win for both the player and the organization.

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#20 Fingort
April 03 2012, 04:06PM
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Gregor,

It's not exactly relevant anymore but it's interesting to note that Schultz was picked by the Ducks with the 2nd round pick in 2008 they obtained from the Oilers as part of the Dustin Penner RFA offer sheet signing.

I mean, there's no sense in re-hashing the merits of the Penner move, but it's interesting to know that Schultz may well have been the oilers property to begin with.

He would be an excellent pick up in my opinion.

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#21 CaptainLander
April 03 2012, 04:10PM
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The can we get Schultz from Washington?

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#22 Jon
April 03 2012, 04:17PM
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Erixon was not at risk of becoming a UFA though, he was at risk of re-entering the draft. I imagine Schultz becoming a UFA would considerably drop his value...there's no assurances he will re-sign with your team, the fact that he won't sign with the Ducks is probably because he wants to pick his own team just like Blake Wheeler did.

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#23 Jon
April 03 2012, 04:18PM
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And from a team's perspective, they have no assurance that another team won't draft him first, so they'll be more willing to pony up assets...while a free agent, all teams have an equal chance at him.

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#24 Oilinmyblood
April 03 2012, 04:22PM
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With the glut of defensive prospects that are climbing the system, if they were to trade for Shultz's rights from Anaheim, it would seem wise and prudent to include one of them as opposed to just draft picks. Maybe Davidson or Blain and a draft pick later than a second? These are the types of gambles you have to go for and it's why we've stockpiled assets.

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#25 Quicksilver ballet
April 03 2012, 04:23PM
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Tom's been fined $10.000 for his Hollywood reference.

http://ow.ly/a3S5S

Time for another Oilers Nation bottle drive!

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#26 Oilinmyblood
April 03 2012, 04:27PM
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@Jon

Erixon could still have gone back into the draft so Rangers were gambling *wink* *nudge* ...who really believes that Rangers didn't know they could sign him. If the Oilers management are "playing the game," they won't be trading anything unless they know they've got a real chance of signing him...they're not that stupid...right...please somebody tell me I'm right.

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#27 Bob Cobb
April 03 2012, 04:41PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Tom's been fined $10.000 for his Hollywood reference.

http://ow.ly/a3S5S

Time for another Oilers Nation bottle drive!

He got in trouble for telling the truth, the refing has as been horrible. If you ask me Katz should step up and cover the fine.

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#28 The Beaker
April 03 2012, 04:51PM
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@Bob Cobb

No, If you ask me Katz should come out and repeat what Renney said.

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#29 Rama Lama
April 03 2012, 04:55PM
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It's a good thing that he is not big and strong......Kevin and Steve do not like big tough players.

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#30 Zed
April 03 2012, 05:06PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

$10,000

The exact amount of Gary Bettman's monthly boat payment.

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#31 Lexi
April 03 2012, 05:13PM
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My sense is the biggest rivals for Shultz are; Detroit if they don't get Suter, Nashville if they lose Suter, Toronto because of Gardiner and the other Western Canadian teams. I think Carolina & Tampa Bay might be good fits for him as well.

If the Oilers do sign him, it would give me some hope that the management is getting better.

It seems really bizarre that no one seems to know why he hasn't signed with the Ducks. I'm assuming he just wants to pick where he wants to play. I'm hoping he has some affinity for Alberta as I think half of Kelowna is Albertan.

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#32 Oiler Al
April 03 2012, 05:29PM
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Even if you divide Eave's commentary on this guy by X 2, you still have a pretty good player it would appear!. Its obvious this guys is doing this so that he controls where he plays.Would his motive be to get ice time/points to build his value, or does he want to play with X team mates .. Toronto and Rangers in this case. Burke has a good history with college players, and Sather pulls deals out of the back room. By the time Tambelini wakes up and makes a move, this guy will be on the blue line eleswhere.

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#35 freeze
April 03 2012, 05:38PM
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Does the 50 contract limit keep any teams out of the running? Any way to gather that info?

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#36 Craig1981
April 03 2012, 05:47PM
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Has anyone else put together that the 2 picks the Oilers gave up for Penner were used to draft Tyler Myers and Justin Schultz. Our Blue would of looked a little different

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#37 Quicksilver ballet
April 03 2012, 05:56PM
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I'd wager dollars to donuts there's alot of petty cash trading hands below the table in markets like Philadelphia,Chicago,New York,Boston and Detroit for players they deem worthy. The same thing will happen for this Schultz kid.

Edmonton has played by the book the last 5yrs, and look where it's gotten them.

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#38 DieHard
April 03 2012, 08:00PM
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This is the reason Gilbert was traded !!

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#39 Oilinmyblood
April 03 2012, 08:10PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I'd wager dollars to donuts there's alot of petty cash trading hands below the table in markets like Philadelphia,Chicago,New York,Boston and Detroit for players they deem worthy. The same thing will happen for this Schultz kid.

Edmonton has played by the book the last 5yrs, and look where it's gotten them.

or is that Penner Pancakes?

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#40 Saytalk
April 03 2012, 08:20PM
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So how much and for how many years do you offer Schultz? A prospect, but a UFA... someone's going to offer him a lot of money.

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#41 Professor
April 03 2012, 08:45PM
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@ Saytalk

"It won't become a bidding war because he can only make the maximum base salary of $875,000 on his entry level deal. (He makes the max of the year he was drafted.) Due to his age, he will only be required to sign a two-year entry level deal, not three"

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#42 Reg Dunlop
April 03 2012, 11:02PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

It's a good thing that he is not big and strong......Kevin and Steve do not like big tough players.

Bingo brother. However, since he dominates against North Dakota... I think that is just north of Dakota and is a sure sign that he will be, I dunno, maybe just another D prospect.

One thing this does is divert attention away from the fact that the oil won't sign a real NHL D man.

By the way, does anyone remember the Minnesota Folding Saints? Players purchased by the WHA oil from the smouldering ruins of the Fighting Saints? Anyone as old as me without alzhimers? Schultz's college asst. coach Bill Butters played a handful of games here. A good omen perhaps.

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#44 Oilcruzer
April 04 2012, 12:59AM
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Bob Cobb wrote:

He got in trouble for telling the truth, the refing has as been horrible. If you ask me Katz should step up and cover the fine.

Of all games, the King game wasn't the one to whine about. The reffing arguably cost other games, this one wasn't going to be won.

It's looking like the refs are being told to allow more clutch grab interference etc cuz the playoffs are coming.

I hope I'm wrong.

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#45 Time Travelling Sean
April 04 2012, 06:54AM
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LA sucks, like what's the point of winning if it makes your fans want to slap somebody else's baby to see what happens.

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#46 Old Soldier
April 04 2012, 12:23PM
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I believe the whole point of Schultz not signing with Anaheim is for him to be able to "pick and choose" where he plays.

Given the fact that his ELC is already dictated, there is absolutely little any team, including the Oil can do to influence his decision.

I have to believe, given he has had 4 years to think about it, he knows exactly, 100%, where he wants to go and there is little doubt whoever that is, wants him as well.

Knowing all that, I think its a bit ridiculous to put the onus on Oil management to sign him. There is nothing they or any other team can do or say if the kid has his mind set. You can't hold them accountable if he signs somewhere else, or use it as a mark against them.

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#47 gcw_rocks
April 05 2012, 02:43PM
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Some CBA rules are weird. While Schultz becomes a FA on June 1st, Chirelli comments from the Blake Wheeler signing suggest that he can't offically sign anywhere to July 1st:

"Of course, we can't sign [Wheeler] until July 1," said Chiarelli, "but we look forward to getting him in the mix. Anytime you can get a young player of Blake's caliber with that blend of size and skill, you are very fortunate." - June 17, 2008

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#48 MILOIL
April 17 2012, 01:08PM
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Omark would be enough to swing the deal. the ducks are going to lose him anyway. Schultz basically gets to decide where he wants to play. there is no nhl team that would take this deal

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