Report: Justin Schultz Leaves School

Justin Schultz, the high-end prospect who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, appears to have started the clock ticking on his departure from the Ducks’ organization today.

This from TSN Insider Bob McKenzie’s Twitter account this morning:

Of course, the possibility exists that Schultz just wants to start his professional career with the Anaheim Ducks. Certainly Ducks’ G.M. Bob Murray has been publicly optimistic about that possibility; here’s what he said a little under two weeks ago regarding Schultz:

Last week, I had a good chat with him. I think Justin has got his exams and he’ll figure out what he wants to do after he gets his schoolwork done. He wanted to concentrate on school and I think he gets done for the year sometime next week. We expect to know something on that in the next little while.

While Schultz may choose to sign with the Ducks during that 30-day window McKenzie mentions, it seems improbable that he will do so. Had the defenseman chosen to leave college once his hockey season was done, he would already have played NHL hockey – that’s how eager Anaheim was to get him on their blue line. It’s possible he was just that committed to his studies in life sciences, but it seems more probable that he was eyeing the same route to free agency that Blake Wheeler took to land in Boston.

As for where he’ll end up, nobody seems to know. This hasn’t stopped a great deal of speculation, since Schultz could end up as a top-pairing NHL defenseman down the road; every team in the league would love to land that kind of high-end, NHL-ready prospect for nothing.

Oilers fans haven’t been immune. Back in March, Bob McKenzie expressed an opinion that the Edmonton Oilers had the best chance of landing Schultz, and that he would be a good fit for the team.

Of course, fellow TSN panelists Aaron Ward and Marc Crawford chose Detroit and Toronto. Schultz is from Kelowna, and the Vancouver Canucks are a top team – might he be a fit there? His head coach, Mike Eaves, coached for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, played in Calgary and Minnesota, and was drafted by St. Louis – will he be suggesting a destination to the defenseman? The tea leaves can be arranged and rearranged in 30 different directions; the reality is that we’ll know where he’s going to sign right around the time he lets it be known where he’s going to sign. Speculation in the meantime is just speculation.

I don’t expect that to stop more speculation up until July 1. As has been made abundantly clear – both by his head coach and the people who have watched him closely – he’s a very good young player. More than that, if he does leave the Ducks, somebody’s going to get him for virtually nothing.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • So is every team in the league theoretically equal in terms of what they can offer him? I know he has a max amount he can earn money wise but what else can teams do other than say “we can offer you this type of opportunity in this line up” or “If you played for us you would be playing for a contender”?

    Is there legally anything else teams can offer? We all know that I’m sure some things are also done under the table as well. Edmonton should be pulling out all the stops.

    Also, I like that move by Justin and his agents. He will be able to talk to every team in the league just AFTER the draft so teams who missed out on D prospects they may have wanted might be even that more desperate to sign him. If indeed there are other things teams can offer him hes putting himself in line to get them.

    • book¡e

      There is nothing that the Oilers could offer him contractually that is better than other teams. They also could be in serious trouble if they offered his Grandmother a car or something of the sort ‘on the side’.

      Now, with that said, they can say “Schultzy – we have the worst defense in the NHL, I mean its like AHL quality, and as a result, you are sure to make the NHL team right away and get to play with guys like Hall, Eberle and RNH.”

      That, to be honest, is a pretty awesome sell.

    • Every team in the league is capped, money-wise, and any under-the-table stuff would be circumvention.

      On the other hand, the Oilers can say a lot of good things. They’re near where he grew up, they’re a terrible team so he can play immediately at their position of greatest need, they’re in at least Year 3 of the rebuild so they could be a contender soon, etc.

  • book¡e

    JW – I just posted my take on the situation in the previous post by Strudwick and wanted to see if you thought it was possible.

    By my interpretation, here is why Schultz becomes a Free Agent as opposed to entering next years draft.

    8.6 (c) iii: As long as he stays in school, Schultz is Anaheim’s property till August 15, 2013. (when he is targeted to graduate) 8.6 (c) Iv: On July 1, if he leaves school, Anaheim loses his rights retroactively to June 1, 2012.

    On June 22 and 23 nobody can pick Schultz as he is on Anaheim’s Reserve List. However, as of July 1st he is retroactively eligible for the 2012 draft. Because nobody selected him at the 2012 draft, section 10.1 (d) (i) indicates that Further, any Player eligible for claim in the Entry Draft, but who was unclaimed, shall be an Unrestricted Free Agent subject to the provision of Section 8.9(b) . Thus he becomes a Free Agent. Then section 8.9(b) gives him the right to sign a SPC with an NHL team at any point between the end of the draft and the beginning of the season. Thus giving him the right to play in the NHL.

    Now, Anaheim could choose to draft him in the 7th round this year. The pick would be disallowed and forfieted, perhaps with an additional penalty (as you are not allowed to draft someone who is on an NHL reserve list, even if it is your own list). After Schultz’ status changes, then he would retroactivly be eligible which would then result in a reversal of the NHL’s disallowing of the pick and Schultz would be Anaheim property again.

    Now, with all of that said, could the Oilers also draft Schultz with a 7th round pick and then force Schultz to sign with either the Ducks or become Oilers property?

    I know it all sounds convoluted, but that is because the initial loophole is convoluted.

    • I appreciate the CBA contortionist act you’re doing with this logic, and there may be merit to it – I can see the case.

      That said, I’m not a lawyer so I just don’t know.

      Looking at it from a “reasonable man” perspective, I don’t think it works. Once the pick has been disallowed, I tend to think it would stay disallowed.

    • Clarence Oveur

      I’m a law student, and even that language is confusing and (as you said) convoluted.

      I can see how a lawyer or someone within the legal realm would misinterpret it…however, I’m sure someone like Rick Olczyk knows the proper way to interpret it via the NHL (at least I hope so).

      Where’s Lionel Hutz when we need him?!

    • DoubleJ

      The applicable CBA section doesn’t seem to mention a 30 day window, I would be curious to know where that comes from – if it’s in a CBA section that I’ve missed or if it’s in a different agreement that isn’t publicly available?

      • DoubleJ

        I should clarify,
        I wasn’t thinking that the following related to this situation (I’m still not sure), but there is a mention of a 30 day window in Article 8.6.c, as it relates to a Bona Fide Offer, and I wonder if that may be the 30 day window being talked about?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We’re so use to this happening to the Oilers (losing players like this) it’s nice to see it’s not just an Edmonton thing anymore.

    Edmonton should take a shot at Justin Schultz, tender an offer like the other 29 clubs. If he’s willing to come here for the legal amount, then so be it. My thinking is he signs with the club with the largest upfront signing bonus. (probably undeclared) If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t competing.

    Open up your petty cash drawer Mr. Katz and keep your lips sealed. 2 million would greatly help establish his family and buy his loyalty in the short term.

  • @Bookje

    Re: loophole

    Does any of it matter? Bettman can make up and change rules as he likes anyways(see: Kovalchuk, Ilya and Devils, New Jersey). I’m sure it would just turn into another NHL vs NHLPA battle with no one really winning just everyone losing.

    • book¡e

      In that case there was a clause supporting the right of the commissioner to act. There is no such clause here and if he tried to do something that was outside of the CBA, he would lose in court.

  • Also, can anyone speak to the fact that he would be signing an Entry Level deal or is he signing something else?

    If it is a ELC then whats the options of having a 2 year deal vs a 3 year deal? I’m sure thats what JS is looking for as he can legally start making big money faster that way.

  • @book¡e

    I’m not a reader of the CBA (and therefor dont know of the clause in any sort of detail) but at least how I view the idea of the Kovalchuk event was that Bettman could act because the Devils were violating the “spirit” of the CBA and therefor Bettman was stepping in to right a wrong. It seems to me deliberately drafting a player that is not eligible to be drafted falls inside the realm of “circumventing the CBA” I know it would be long and drawn out but I can see an issue being made of it.

    • book¡e

      Without digging up the clause, I am pretty sure it referred to violating the ‘spirit’ of the salary cap as there was a concern that people would find a way around it. It was not a clause refering to the entire CBA. If it was, then the commissioner would be within his rights to prevent Schultz from becoming a Free Agent because the agreement between the NHL and NHLPA did not intend to give college students an ‘out’ to UFA and did a lot of things to prevent this from happening. They did however, not consider this possibility.

  • db7db7db7

    Ok. I think I’ve pieced this thing together. I bet that it was always the plan to have Krueger eventually become head coach. The timeline was probably longer, but a job offer in Europe for Krueger probably just forced Tamby’s hand to hurry up the transition so he doesn’t lose Krueger.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to sign here. The Oilers have disappointed me enough lately and i don’t know if i could handle another disappointment.

    Sure, we could offer him immediate playing time and NHL experience, but we are still the 29th worst place to play in the league (according to some survey at some point – old building, cold winters, questionable management). I am sure we are not the only team that can offer him immediate playing time.

    Too bad. He would have really helped our team.

  • bazmagoo

    The potential opportunity in Edmonton boils down to two things – playing for an emerging team (hopefully) and the best opportunity to be paid NHL money during his entry level contract.

    Ask yourself this – would you rather sign in Detroit and possibly play in the AHL for $85,000 next season due to their depth at the position, or sign in Edmonton and probably play in the NHL for $850,000 due to their lack of depth at the position.

    Schultz would essentially be given his best opportunity to make $1,700,000 over the next two seasons in Edmonton (or another team with lack of depth on defence), plus the added bonus of potentially playing for a team on the upswing.

    Seems like a no brainer to me.

    • bazmagoo

      Agreed, we are not the only team in need of help on d but realistically our top 6 d are the worst in the league (in my opinion at least). A great opportunity for Schultz to come in and win a spot immediately.

  • CaptainLander

    Can Anaheim trade his rights before he finishes school, giving another team the 30 day window to sign?

    Say he has indicated that he does not, for whatever reason want to play in Anaheim. Site playing time and that Edmonton may be the best fit for him based on that. Can Anaheim trade hi rights to the Oil for another prospect Oil can sign without risk of being seduced by another team and Anaheim does not loose him for nothing.

    • book¡e

      They could trade something to Anaheim for his rights, but other than that, they cannot talk to him or publicly indicate interest.

      Edit – Yes, Hot Women are also probably important.

  • I'm a Scientist!


    I believe the only way to sign him before draft day is to trade for his rights within the next 30 days and convince him that we have a higher number of hot women than any other city in North America.

  • bazmagoo

    Just adding to the “why would be sign in Edmonton” discussion …

    I can think of a number of reasons why he wouldn’t want to sign here [e.g. is the team really on the upswing, or are we the Islanders of the west? – add to that Edmonton’s cold winters, small market/fishbowl, etc.]

    Having said that, JW makes a good point – immediate ice time is a BIG selling point.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the financial consideration. Ice time in Edmonton (with our young offensive punch) gives him an excellent opportunity to pump his boxcars as much as he can over the next couple of years. I am hard pressed to think of another team where he would have as good an opportunity to put up point totals.

    Getting high point totals over the next two years positions him to cash in for way more money when he goes UFA. Even if he doesn’t really want to play in Edmonton [becuase it’s cold, or becuase we’re poorly managed, etc.] it might be a case of short term pain for long term gain (financially).

  • Oilers4ever

    You know I wish people would get information straight here.. I’ve heard as well that because he has no contract with the Ducks that he is available to everyone June 1st. Where did that info come from? A lot of confusion around a single player who could end up being a big flop in the NHL and not be worth all the hype…

  • Reg Dunlop

    Perhaps someone can elaborate: Justin Schultz has played 0 NHL games, was a 2nd round draft yet most everyone at ON thinks he is the savior, Ryan Murray has played 0 NHL games, will be a top 3 draft pick, yet most of ON figures him to be years away from helping a NHL defence. WHY?

  • Reg Dunlop

    @Reg Dunlop:

    Because it’s the same group who talk about Yakapov like he is a surefire 50 goal scorer. Now apparently this Schultz kid is the second coming of Brian Leetch.

    But they respond with sarcastic “me smart,you dumb” attack comments to anyone who has a differing view to theirs. It’s just the nature of a team fan blog site.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I just had an out of the box thought and wanted some opinions on it. What if we were to approach The head coach of Justin’s college team and offer him an assistant coaching role with the oilers, or if that is to big a leap maybe promoting Nelson to the big team and offering Justin’s coach a role with the oil kings.

    Obviously, I don’t know the guy and have no idea if he is a good coach or if Justin even liked playing for him. If he is a good coach and well liked by his players having him down the hall could be that added incentive for Schultz to sign here.

    What do you think?

  • Reg Dunlop

    Is it possible that the Leafs, might have the inside track to this guy. 1. I think Gardiner and Schultz were linemates in college. 2. For what its worth , Burke is one of the biggest supports of college players….
    Just a taught. Not sure if that would entice Schultz to sign with Oilers. If that was the ticket to ride, I would trade Hemsky and Peckham to Leafs for Gardiner. Yakapov, takes Hemsky place on the line.