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.

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.

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.

This week by Jonathan Willis at the Nation Network

  • 24% body fat

    It would be nice to hear something from the Oilers on this guy? Since he is not a first round draft choice, I am sure that Tamby has not heard of him!

    It was not that long ago that Tamby thought Yakapov was a wild Russian goat.

    • book¡e

      I don’t believe the Oilers are permitted to say anything about ‘this guy’ because his rights are currently held by another team. Just about any comment right now would be considered Tampering.

    • book¡e

      I believe that he is unwilling to sign with Anaheim – most likley because he is fortunate enough to fit through a loophole which gives him his choice of teams.

  • 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?

  • 24% body fat

    Everything you read about this guy suggests that he is what Edmonton needs, until you get to the part of pointing out what hole Edmonton needs to fill.

    Tying this in with Lowetide’s last posting, Edmonton needs to not only find guys that can help but put them in positions where they can be a pleasant surprise. Not put them in a position where they may be seen as a disappointment.

    Case in point is Barker VS Potter. It’s a common theme amongst fans that Barker wasn’t worth spit where as Potter would qualify as a nice find (in reality neither of them are worth a second consideration but that’s a different topic). Barker was brought in to play in the top 4 and failed where as Potter was a guy that may compete for a spot. Drastically different expectations.

    Is it really a good fit for both team and player if they bring him with the expectation that he could step into the top 4?

    The other question I would ask is; to what extent the players are as good as think they are in situations where they feel they are important enough to call their own shots prior to ever stepping foot on an NHL ice surface?

  • CaptainLander

    If he goes to UFA he will have 29 teams interested. True outside of Columbus the Oil may give him the best opportunity to play I would would hope he would choose the Oil if this is his goal. Then again if he is as good as the Oiler media seems to be saying why would he not choose a team where he can learn from the best. If Suter finds a new home this summer there is a big hole left on the back end in Nashville. Is this guy better the Blum or the other young D-men in Nashville? If so he may have an opportunity to play and learn from arguably the best young D-man in the league. Or play on a team with Lidstrom assuming he comes back for another year. I have seem 100 posts about this guy and think is a little to much hope on a crap shoot.

  • book¡e

    The only why he could be more appealing is if his Name was Ryan Schultz 🙂
    But really, there is no way signing this guy could be any worse of an option than Barker or Peckham were last season so I don’t see why people should be second guessing this guy. I say sign him.

  • Prudham's

    I really hope he signs with the Oilers. The thing is – McKenzie IS the best and most connected commentator, but there’s nothing that indicated to me that he has inside information on this one. He was asked to pick a team, and he picked one. Based on the language he used, I think he’s just saying it’s his best guess. Hope I’m either wrong, or that the Oilers sign him anyway!

  • 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.

  • 24% body fat

    someone start a #schultzforoilers campaign. Lets show him that the city and organization want this guy.

    We should also trade potter or peckham for the rights to Suter. Its a long shot and maybe more than what we want to pay, and maybe Nashville still signs him. We have too many guys in that number 6-10 slot and not enough room in OKC. these two will have to clear waivers, get some value out of them please.

    Oh, BTW the depth is on RW and Lower LW not at center. These are the pieces that will be traded to acquire a D if going this route.

  • I would rather the Oiler sign free agent Justin Shultz,Than to try and trade for An expensive free agent. I dont believe next year is the time to chase free agents.But in 2014 when the Oilers make the cup run that is a differant story

    • O.C.

      He’s FA this summer. No? Don’t think anything else is suggested.

      I see him a year ahead of the rest of the rooks. None of them have experience in the show so ya, it is a crap shoot. Thats fine It’s better to have more throws in a crap shoot.

  • 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.

  • 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