WEEKEND WRAP

Jason Gregor
July 03 2012 01:49PM

Oiler fans haven't had much to celebrate since their joyous run in the spring of 2006, but on Saturday Justin Schultz gave them a reason to believe that the days of players shunning Edmonton or walking away might be a thing of the past.

Schultz chose the Oilers instead of the Canucks, Senators, Leafs, Rangers and Wild, and ultimately chose them instead of any of the other 29 franchises.

Schultz was clear that Canada was where he wanted to play, and considering Ryan Suter, an American, has stated he wants to play in the US, I don't have a big problem if a player is passionate about playing in his home country.

Many have wondered why he didn't sign with the Ducks after they drafted him 43rd overall in 2008. “Nothing against them. I really enjoyed my time with them, and going to their camps. Lots of good people there. But it came down to me having the option to choose where I wanted to play. To play in Canada was a huge thing for me,” said Schultz.

Schultz's situation was very rare, which is why he was such a big story leading up to July 1st. I understand the Ducks' frustration in losing a young, talented player for nothing, but unless they change the wording in the CBA they have no legal arguement. Schultz had a loophole and he used it to his advantage, and the Oilers and their fans couldn't be happier.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Some seemed to think that because Schultz's signing was garnering so much interest across the NHL, and especially on twitter, that he was being overhyped and overrated.

I went back and looked through most of the coverage on Schultz, and there was a wide array of coverage, but I didn't see anything written that suggested his play was being overhyped. Was his saga overhyped, of course, but in the world of Internet, twitter, facebook, TV and radio that's just how stories unfold today.

Schultz was the only UFA in North America who was allowed to speak to all 30 teams prior to July 1st, so his situation, not his skill level, garnered all of the attention.

What would be a realistic rookie season for Schultz? Here are the fifteen other D-men from his 2008 draft class who have played at least one NHL season, and here's a breakdown of their first year.

PLAYER                    Drafted                 AGE OF 1ST YR           GP      G       A        PTS      +/-

D. Droughty                #2                                    18                       81       6       21        27         -17
Z. Bogosian               #3                                    18                       47        9      10        19          11
A. Pietrangelo            #4                                    20                       79       11     32        43         18
L. Schenn                   #5                                    18                       70        2      12        14         -12
T. Myers                      #12                                  19                       82       11     37        48          13
E. Karlsson               #15                                   20                      75       13     32        45         -30
J. Gardiner                #17                                   21                       75        7      23        30         -2
*L. Sbisa                  #19                                     20                       68       2        9         11         -11
M. Del Zotto               #20                                   19                       80       9       28        37        -20
J. Carlson                 #27                                    20                       82       7       30        37         21
V. Voynov                   #32                                    21                       54       8       12        20         12
J. Schultz                  #43                                    22                       ??        ?        ?          ?           ?
T. Hamonic               #53                                   20                       62       5       21        26          4
M. Scandella            #55                                   21                       63       3        9         12          -22
J. Spurgeon             #156                                 21                       53       4        8         12          -1
**J. Demers             #183                                 21                       51       4      17         21           5

*Sbisa played 39 games as an 18-year-old in Philly, but I used his 20-year-old year as his first full NHL season.

**Demers was drafted as a 20-year-old, and his first year was in 2009 with the Sharks.

What is a realistic number for Schultz, it is hard to say.

Gardiner might be the closest comparison considering they both came from Wisconsin, but Schultz has the advantage of being one year stronger. If Schultz produces 30-35 points and is an even player the Oilers and their fans should be ecstatic. Remember that only 43 defenders produced 30+ points last year, while 46 did it in 2011 and 52 in 2010.

Sadly, like most offensive statistics, scoring by D-men across the league is slowly going down, so fans and the Oilers should keep their expectations realistic.

OTHER NOTES

  • Many feel the Ryan Smyth signing means Magnus Paajarvi is destined to start the season in OKC. That's a possibility, but right now it seems that there is an opening for the 2nd line LW. Hall is the first liner, and Smyth is the 3rd. I'd argue that Magnus Paajarvi will battle Teemu Hartikainen for that spot. You want competition in camp, and you want players to earn their spot.

    Signing Smyth makes sense. The Oilers would be foolish to start the season with Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Paajarvi and Hartikainen as five of their top-six wingers. You need some veteran experience, and Smyth brings that.
     
  • I still believe that if they can find a trading partner the Oilers will deal one of their forwards, not a 4th liner, for a veteran D-man. I haven't heard any realistic options, but if a team is willing to offer a proven top-four defender I suspect the Oilers will listen. The four kids are untouchable at this point, but 83, 91 and 89 could be moved for the right price.
     
  • Interesting trade between the Stars and Sabres. The Stars get the most productive player, Derek Roy, but the Sabres get a much needed mixture of grit and skill in Steve Ott along with Adam Pardy. I look at the deal this way. The Sabres dealt Zack Kassian and Derek Roy for Ott, Pardy and Cody Hodgson. The Hodgson move allowed them to move Roy. They have too many small forwards, and I could see the Oilers making a similar type move in a few years.
     
  • Cam Charron tweeted the following video that was on a Canucks blog after the Canucks lost out on Schultz, but managed to sign Jason Garrison. If you can't laugh at this then you take sports way too seriously. This is pretty good, but I suspect an Oiler fan could come up with something better. If you do, send it to me and I'll gladly post it here.  

  • Huge shout out to all the competitors and volunteers who were part of the Great White North Triathlon in Stony Plain over the weekend. It was a great event, and it was inspiring to see the amount of dedication it takes to swim 2Km, bike 90KM and run 21KM. All the volunteers were great, and it was nice to see how much the competitors appreciated those who volunteered their time.
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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 ubermiguel
July 03 2012, 01:56PM
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Virtual fist bump for the realistic expectations on Schultz (New Schultz? Schultz Jr.? Schultz II?). I hope the fans really understand he's not the 2nd coming of Bobby Orr. He's a solid young roster player for a great price. I remember the hype around Poti, and how that turned on him and he was unfairly run out of town.

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#2 justDOit
July 03 2012, 03:23PM
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Somewhere, there's a lonely bridge. Don't feed it.

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#3 Wax Man Riley
July 03 2012, 04:11PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Virtual fist bump for the realistic expectations on Schultz (New Schultz? Schultz Jr.? Schultz II?). I hope the fans really understand he's not the 2nd coming of Bobby Orr. He's a solid young roster player for a great price. I remember the hype around Poti, and how that turned on him and he was unfairly run out of town.

EXPECTATIONS MY EYE!!!

SCHULTZ WILL SCORE 90PTS, GET THE NORRIS AND THE CALDER AND THE OILERS WILL WIN THE CUP AFTER GOING 82-0!!!

YAAAAYYYY SHULTZZZZZZ AND GAGNE!!! GOOOIIILLLERRRZZZZZ!

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#4 D
July 03 2012, 01:55PM
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Overall a pretty good weekend for the Oil.

On another note, Schultz used a legal loophole, but is closing that particular loophole even a priority for the next round of the CBA negotiations?

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#5 freeze
July 03 2012, 02:30PM
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The thing I like most about the Schultz 'drama' is that he was picked with the Oilers 2nd rounder given up in the Penner offer sheet... and now we have him anyway!

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#6 Archaeologuy
July 03 2012, 02:58PM
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True Story: Pietrangelo could be on my team any day of the week.

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#7 dietflannel
July 03 2012, 02:11PM
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Gregor, there were rumblings around the draft of a trade involving MPS and Gagner for Yandle. When looking at that deal, I love it, but, frankly, to get a stud 40+ point, healthy, top pairing blueliner that's signed for four more years like Yandle, I think we will have to pay more. While MPS may turn out to be a solid NHLer, he's still a prospect. Gagner is a quality player; however, there's all this talk of aiming for a bigger #2 C / moving Hall to C this season. If we have to put in more for a guy like Yandle, I would do it, and here's why:

- Oilers have a glut of forwards in the pipe; - Oilers are too small up front and not good enough in the back end; - With players like Garrison signing for 4.6M per, how can you argue with a 5.25M hit in Yandle for the next four seasons? - At some point, you have to start acquiring for the now and not the future. I believe this is the point in time from which the transition must be made.

All I can say is that I hope that Tambo has talked to PHX and said "we like Yandle and, once the UFA market calms down, let's resume talks and make this work." It makes sense to me as the Oilers have young, cheaper, raw talent that a fiscally-constrained team like PHX covets. After a week of free agency, they will have a better idea of what they need coming back to them via trade and I think we can make it work.

Others' thoughts on this?

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#8 Wax Man Riley
July 03 2012, 04:22PM
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GetReal wrote:

Edmonton will never be a desired destination, if it is the case I expect Suter , and Parise to be signing next.

Most of you graduate and then leave the city yourself, you gotta be out of your mind desired destination hahhahaa...

I understand the sentiment...

The population of Alberta consists of people moving here for work, not millionaires looking for night life.

However, no one wants to live in Detroit, the city is a dilapidated, dangerous place to be, but the Red Wings are perpetual contenders....so you go to win.

There are 30 teams in the league, and by your rationale, the only place players want to be are New York, LA, Anaheim (wait, everybody seems to want out of there), Florida (both teams), San Jose, and maybe Vancouver.

With the exception of LA and their 43 year drought, what have "preferred destinations" won?

....so?? .... how was it? "Nom, nom, nom, nom" is all I hear as I feed you.

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#9 BingBong
July 03 2012, 02:16PM
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If there's room for Paajarvi or Hartikainen in the top 6, where does that leave one of Yakapov, Hemsky or Eberle? I'm aware they're all RW, but they all belong in the top 6, definatley ahead of Smyth, Paajarvi or Hartikainen. I was under the impression Hemsky would move over to LW on the sencond line. I don't see any room for Paajarvi.

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#10 50 in 39
July 03 2012, 02:46PM
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@BingBong

I see what you are saying there but JG's comment was on the top-six wingers not the top-six forwards. I don't see there being a big difference in skill level between the second and third lines. (whoever plays with the Nuge being the top line). Quality of competition will have the largest effect on the difference in box scores I think.

Of course this all changes if trades are made.

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#11 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 03 2012, 02:47PM
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that's a heck of a draft class for defensmen

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#12 GetReal
July 03 2012, 03:13PM
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Edmonton will never be a desired destination, if it is the case I expect Suter , and Parise to be signing next.

Most of you graduate and then leave the city yourself, you gotta be out of your mind desired destination hahhahaa...

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#13 Maggie the Monkey
July 03 2012, 03:17PM
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"The Oilers would be foolish to start the season with Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Paajarvi and Hartikainen as five of their top-six wingers."

Do you know something about Hemsky that the rest of us don't?

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#14 lolhockey
July 03 2012, 04:11PM
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Stauffer mentioned something about Hemsky probably starting the season on the third line with Horc and Smyth, provided he isn't traded. I'm guessing this is why Gregor left him off the list of top 6 wingers.

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#15 Wax Man Riley
July 03 2012, 04:23PM
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justDOit wrote:

Somewhere, there's a lonely bridge. Don't feed it.

oops.... couldn't resist

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#17 Dog Train
July 03 2012, 04:54PM
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3:18 of that video is one of the sweetest things that I've ever seen in an NHL video game.

I have realistic expectations for Schultz. They are that he moves the puck better than Corey Potter or Andy Sutton. Our offensive talent gets wasted if we spend all of our shifts in the D-zone.

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#18 Wax Man Riley
July 03 2012, 06:05PM
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@Jason Gregor

Great interview with Hordichuk!

If anybody didn't catch it, check it out here

I'm looking forward to seeing if Hordichuk can bring more of what we saw in that game against Minnesota last year.

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#19 Oiler Al
July 03 2012, 06:52PM
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Sorry Hordichuck resign, was a mistake. This guy is wannabe goon, who really isnt, a bit of an angitator, but does very little to protect the elite of the team. Same with Eager... waste of time these guys.

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#20 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 03 2012, 08:15PM
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I can't emphasize enough, the importance of that Hordichuk signing, awesome signing for the Oil. Kreuger and his efforts to put players in a much better position to succeed will see more return with his confidence in Darcy than any other player.

Hordichuk is one of the new SQUEEEEEEEEE brothers for the 2012-2013 season. 40 goals and a hundred penalty minutes for the bruise brother this season alone. Him and Nugent-Hopkins will be inseperable by the end of the year.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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#21 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 03 2012, 08:18PM
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Are Justin Schultz and Ryan Smyth really really really both Oilers?

Not sure if it was just a beautiful dream from that awesome weekend.

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