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


  • book¡e

    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.

  • book¡e

    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…

  • book¡e

    @ 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.

  • 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?

  • I haven’t really seen Schultz play – but every scout I’ve read or talked to about him as sung his praises. Anaheim believed he was ready to play in the NHL *now* and made a strong push to sign him to play for them down the stretch.

    The YouTube clips may not sell the guy, but the Ducks believe he’s ready, scouts and coaches believe he’s ready, and his numbers in college are hell and gone past those put up by Petry or Chorney.

    Would I feel more comfortable if I’d seen him play a few dozen times myself? Absolutely, but both math and the experts say this kid is NHL-ready now, and probably top-4 ready on a team like Edmonton.

  • Zamboni Driver

    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

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    • i.) I think that’s the most sensible trade suggestion I’ve seen. Yeah, I’d be fine if the Oilers moved Omark (who’s gone anyway) and a conditional pick.

      ii.) That’s a really good question. I think the team would be well-advised to pursue another guy – either via trade or free agency – but only if they can get someone on a reasonable contract, a contract that might be moveable later if the need arises.

  • Lexi

    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.