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

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.

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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.

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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.

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This week by Jonathan Willis at the Nation Network

  • 24% body fat

    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.

  • bazmagoo

    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.

  • 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.

  • OutDoorRink

    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.

  • 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!

  • @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.

    • Are you really criticizing the suggestion of signing someone who is a good bet because they are not going to fix the team all at once?

      There is not a person alive who thinks Schultz is the complete solution to the Oilers woes, but he has the potential to be part of the solution. Why is that not good enough for you?

      Yours is the mindset that almost traded for Heatley. There are no magic bullets.

  • Dipstick

    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.

  • DieHard

    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.

  • Pinoy-ler

    I hope Justin Schultz isn’t reading any (some) of these comments. He probably feels offended that no one can correctly spell his last name…

    SCHULTZ, not SHULTZ. :/

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Maybe I’ve missed the bus, but how is it that Edmonton is such a prime locale for a young guy to choose from-given we are the furthest north with the worst track record over the past 3 years??