THE EDMONTON EXPRESS

As the end of a brilliant, trying season nears its end, the American Hockey League gave out the first of what should be several awards to young Oiler Justin Schultz. The "Eddie Shore" Award–named after the "Edmonton Express"–has never been given to a rookie defender before this season.

Schultz was outstanding in OKC, with 18 goals and 30 assists in just 34 games, topped off with a plus-8 rating. His performance in Edmonton after the lockout ended was very strong, but the long season and those 30 minute AHL games have taken their toll. Here’s Schultz numbers by month:

  • January: 7, 3-2-5 +2
  • February: 12, 3-4-7 -6
  • March: 15, 0-4-4 -7
  • April: 8, 1-4-5 -6

Schultz is -15 since Valentine’s Day and his game has become wildly inconsistent. As talented as this young man clearly is, the offseason can’t come soon enough.

IS THERE A CONCERN?

Playing NHL defense when everything is right is hard enough, playing on an empty tank must be a very difficult thing to do. Schultz has played big minutes all year long (21:33 a night in Edmonton, my bet is much more in OKC) and has remained healthy and from this angle there’s been a lot of try.

The learning curve, the longer season, playing on a team that is struggling too–it all adds up to a tough finish to an outstanding rookie season. All things considered, the future looks bright.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Looking back, perhaps Schultz TOI should have been monitored more closely when he was in the AHL, but that’s quibbling. The coach played his best and surely Eddie Shore would have loved the big minutes from the rookie. And maybe that’s what we should take away from this season–the Shore award is awarded to the AHL’s best defenseman–full stop.

Justin Schultz showed he belongs in the NHL–and that at least part of this season was an education. No sin there, that’s what rookie seasons are for, to learn on the job.

I think Justin Schultz is the best young defenseman to land in Edmonton in a long long time, and worthy of an award named after the original Edmonton Express, Eddie Shore.

High praise indeed.

  • DSF

    Jonas Brodin, who is 3 years younger than Schultz, plays 23:08 per game and is +7 to Schultz’s -17.

    Justin Schultz is Jack Johnson.

    Lots of PP production and a terrible adventure at evens.

      • DSF

        Like Jack Johnson.

        If you give everything back at evens that you score on the PP at even strength, you are not helping your team win.

        Brodin has more EV strength points than Schultz.

    • Supernova

      Way to cherry pick stats Troll.

      Brodin also plays with some 90 million dollar defenseman
      , perhaps you’ve heard of Ryan Suter.

      No, but of course you’re right, Brodin is far better, because plus/minus is completely an individual stat, and completely indicative of a career path.

      Seriously, crawl on top of that bridge you live under, and jump

      • DSF

        Listen.

        Performance matters.

        Schultz is -17.

        If you’ve watched any games recently he is an absolute disaster in his own end. (go check the game grades the Cult of Hockey guys hand out)

        Way to defend a dreadful, defenseman Fanboy.

        I have no reservations about saying Brodin will be a much better defenseman now and and in the future.

        Brodin is 19…not 22.

        • Cheap Shot Charlie

          “I have no reservations about saying Brodin will be a much better defenseman now and and in the future.”

          Is that like how you have no reservations in saying Florida and Minnesota are 2 of the best teams in the league? Or that Seguin is a country mile better than Hall? Or how (insert 75% of your predictions here)?

          You’re so cute how you like to tease! I love you man! *HUG*

    • GVBlackhawk

      This is a troll attempt. You are not looking at the entire picture here.

      One of, if not THE most crucial factors in performance, is WHO you play with.

      From HockeyAnalysis:

      Do not ignore Quality of Teammates

      “I have just told you to pretty much ignore quality of competition and zone starts, what about quality of teammates? Well, to put it simply, do not ignore them. Quality of teammates matters and matters a lot. Sticking with the Vancouver Canucks, lets use Alex Burrows as an example. Burrows mostly plays with the Sedin twins but has played on Kesler’s line a bit too. Over the past 3 seasons he has played about 77.9% of his ice time with H. Sedin and about 12.3% of his ice time with Ryan Kesler and the reminder with Malhotra and others. Burrow’s offensive production is significantly better when playing with H. Sedin as 88.7% of his goals and 87.2% of his points came during the 77.9% ice time he played with H. Sedin. If Burrows played 100% of his ice time with H. Sedin and produced at the same rate he would have scored 6 (9.7%) more goals and 13 (11%) more 5v5 points over the past 3 seasons. This is far more significant than the 2.3% boost H. Sedin saw from all his offensive zone starts and I am not certain my Burrows example is the most extreme example in the NHL. How many more points would an average 3rd line get if they played mostly with H. Sedin instead of the average 3rd liner. Who you play with matters a lot. You can’t look at Tyler Bozak’s decent point totals and conclude he is a decent player without considering he plays a lot with Kessel and Lupul, two very good offensive players”.

      Brodin plays mostly with Ryan Suter, one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Justin Schultz played most of his minutes with Nick Schultz, then Ryan Whitney.

      I won’t even go into the fact that Minnesota plays a much better defensive system than the one implemented by RK.

      I will go into the fact that Jack Johnson has never posted solid defensive or possession numbers. JSchultz on the other hand, just turned in a solid AHL season, and was a “plus” player in Wisconsin. This is the first real spanking he’s ever taken in his own zone.

      I will go into the fact that (unsurprisingly) you are using a very small sample size to judge JSchultz. Jack Johnson has an established track record to form a valid opinion on.

      • DSF

        I wasn’t the one trumpeting Schultz as the second coming of Christ.

        Fact is, he’s been dreadful defensively this season.

        You can blame that on his defensive partners, the coaches system or the lame excuse that he’s “tired” but the evidence is that he can’t play defense to save his life.

        Just a quick note:

        Alex Burrows had a a 25 goal season BEFORE he played with the Sedins.

        • Time Travelling Sean

          J Schultz looks lazy in his own zone, no one is going to deny that, but he is a rookie. This is what rookie seasons are for. How many players peak during their rookie seasons? Esp defensemen?

          Brodin is a good D-man, playing with a very good D-man in a very structured, established system suited for D-men.

          Also being tired isn’t a lame excuse, from 40 games a season against college players to 78 games playing 20-25 minutes a night against professionals, it does take adjusting, look at Conacher, 18 points in his first 20 games, then 7 in the next 20. He played in 36 AHL games before the NHL season started.

          • Supernova

            Excellent point

            The system is the main thing that separates the two, then style of play, add in quality of teammates.

            I will take Schultz over Brodin at this point and I suspect that will be the case in a few years as well.

            Not sure why everyone gets riled up by DSF.

            He is controversy machine on almost every new post. Which gets old.

            The devils’s advocate, just ignore him and he will go away.

          • DSF

            You know Brodin played in the AHL, is coming off a broken collarbone and plays more than 23 minutes a night, right?

            He’s also a rookie and is only 19.

            So maybe that’s why he isn’t “tired”.

          • DSF

            I wonder what that says about Yak, who seems to be trending in the opposite direction. Seems to be gaining strength and smarts each game as the rest of the team staggers to the finish line. Hopeful sign?

          • I think you hit it right on. If you go by 5 game segments the amount he has learned and improved upon is impressive.

            I can’t help but think with his ability to pick the NHL game up quick that he’s going to be a very good hockey player come year two and three.

        • GVBlackhawk

          He’s probably not going to be the best defenseman in the league. But he will put up great offensive numbers and become a reasonable defensive player in time. That’s still a great trade-off, imo.

          You are correct — Burrows scored 25 goals before he played with the Sedins. He played with this hack named Bryan Kesler or something, who put up 26G and 33A that season.

          The point still stands.

          • DSF

            Point is, Burrows doesn’t need to play with the best to be an actual NHL player who can keep his head above water.

            Kesler was 23.

            As for Junior, I’m not sure what you think “great offensive numbers” are.

            Erik Karlsson put up 78 points as a 21 year old.

            In that ballpark?

          • Eddie Shore

            That’s some awesome cherry pick there from a Brodin comparison to Karlsson – WOW that was whopper even for you.

            Why stop there . . . .heck there was a 22 year old who was +124 and had 139 pts his name was Bobby Orr – Schulz Jr. should switch sports I guess . . .

            What a DA.

          • DSF

            I recall Lowetide comparing Schultz to Bobby Orr…I laughed.

            But not as hard as when he compared Sam Gagner to Doug Gilmour…I peed myself…and it wasn’t planned.

            It really is time that Oiler fans took a step back and took a close look at what they actually have before thinking they can trade their chaff for actual NHL players.

            Schultz is a decent offensive defenseman who doesn’t have a clue in his own end.

            Anyone who can’t see that isn’t paying attention.

            Winning an AHL award is great and all but bear in mind that Jason Krog was an absolute AHL stud and there are numerous other examples of players who could excel at that level but failed when the rubber hit the road.

            Schultz may well figure things out but until, or if, he does, he’s a smaller, weaker Jack Johnson.

            There is no evidence to the contrary.

            None.

          • Citizen David

            “But not as hard as when he compared Sam Gagner to Doug Gilmour…I peed myself…and it wasn’t planned ”

            You might want to get that checked out.

          • Citizen David

            There is no definitive evidence to say Schultz will become a great defenseman in his own zone. But there is no difinitive evidence against it either. Called small sample size. To early to tell.

          • Citizen David

            I’m fine with that. Tyler Myers looked like a stud his first season. Then the wheels came off. But who knows maybe he’ll get back on track. We just don’t know until we know. But I’m a koolaid drinking rose colored glasses Oilers fan so next september I’ll probably be predicting Schultz wins the Norris. And if he doesn’t? Doesn’t bother me. Go Oilers!

          • DSF

            Oh here we go.

            Now its Coffey.

            Coffey’s worst defensive season as an Oiler was a +4 in his rookie season.

            When he was the same age as Schultz he scored 40G 86A 126P +52.

            Mentioning those two players in the same sentence is punishable by death.

          • oilabroad

            pissed off at myself for being caught up in the troll net, but this statement shows your ignorance. Paul Coffey was almost ran out of town early in his career, any offense whatsoever was overshadowed by atrocious play in his own end… Slats skewering him in the paper was a daily occurence at that time and there was plenty of trade talk. You are clueless if you think his +4 at that time made him some kind of defensive dynamo… I know you get asked this daily, but seriously, why are you here??

          • Citizen David

            I really think a better comparison isnt Krog but rather the ’04 – ’05 winner and Kronwall.

            Boxcars are virtually the same in the year of winning the EDMONTON EXPRESS TROPHY (actually projected Schulz’s are twice that of Kronwall but I like Niklas and think he”s a “good average” NHL dman)

            Things are looking bright for Jr.

          • DSF

            Oh yeah but Justin is still filling out only 185 and 6’2″ – and he has a nasty streak both were 23 when they won as well.

            It’s like looking into a mirror.

          • GVBlackhawk

            And the point is, playing with good players makes you better. Burrows has not put up very good numbers without Henrik Sedin or Bryan Kesler centering him.

    • oilman3

      what a stupid comment. must be nice to be able to peg players so easily with such a small sample size. there’s a reason everyone wanted this guy. the oilers have a lot of defensive deficiencies but this kid is a keeper and will only get better. if you love the wild so much why don’t you spend your obvious surplus of free time hanging out on their sites? your constant need to regurgitate stats and rip on oiler players is ridiculous.

    • Mmmm let’s think. Brodin has Suter to mentor and play with plus minny plays much more of a defensive style. He has also played in the swedish elite league which is professional hockey. Schultz came from university hockey, plays with Schultz who really is a third pairing defenseman on a good team and our players hasnt bought into the coaches. Your expectations on Schultz are way too high. Really he should be playing 15 min a night. Minny is a playoff team and we aren’t close. bring in a number one defenseman and then judge.

  • horndog77

    Imagine if Edmonton could trade up for Seth jones! It looks like their headed for a top five pick and they sure have a lot of trade bait. Schultz and jones sounds good to me

  • GVBlackhawk

    It’s such a rare phenomenon to see a young Oilers player get thrown to the wolves the way he has this season……

    I think his minutes should have been tempered in the NHL, rather than in the AHL. If the Oilers would have had a competent top 4 on defense, they could have sheltered JSchultz. Playing against opposition dregs, along with top PP minutes would have suited him well; he is definitely burnt out at this point.

    He is a fantastic young player who will only get better defensively. His positioning needs work and his ability to defend against the cycle is quite poor. However, a smart player like him can improve positioning rather quickly. In addition, his maturing physique should help him to engage physically along the boards, which will markedly improve his effectiveness.

  • Jay Gray

    For many years I owned one Oiler jersey, it has 99 on the back.

    This year I added a 19 to the stable, got mad love for J. Schultz.

    And he was great in Super Troopers.

  • DSF

    Schultz is going on 23 and has absolutely no idea how to play in his own zone, is very soft and only produces on the pp at this level. Well, at one point this season he produced on the pp.

    • DSF

      And then the opposition adjusted to the Oilers PP formation and he went right into the tank.

      Schultz has ONE goal and 7 points in his last 20 games despite getting huge PP minutes.

      Considering he is also -7 over that 20 game stretch, he is a liability not an an asset.

        • DSF

          Given Juniors’ inability to play in his own end, the Wild wouldn’t have him playing on the top pairing.

          They have been healthy scratching Gilbert for the same reason and he’s a better defenseman than Junior.

      • Citizen David

        In 06-07 Bieksa at 25 years old was minus 11 in 34 games with the Canucks a lot better team than the 2013 Oilers, his combined +/- in 3 years at Bowling Green was -40,I would say he turned into a pretty good d-man. I know you do this crap just to get people riled up but don’t you have something better to do? By the way an eagle is a glorified buzzard that lives on things that was killed by something else(perfect moniker)

        • DSF

          You’ve never seen an eagle fishing for salmon?

          In his first full season in the NHL, Bieksa, scored 12 goals and 42 points and was plus 1.

          Considering he was a 5th round pick, I would think he’s done pretty well.

          He spent a couple of years in the AHL learning how to play defense…sound familiar?

          • Rogue

            Yes once in a while they grab a live fish,
            Justin Schultz will be just fine, he has played too many minutes in tough situations and twice as many games as he ever has played, he also didn’t get much practice time and this system seems to be quite flawed.

  • Fantheoilman

    I think Schultz is coming along fine. Considering how bad the team is, how bad his partners are, and how ridiculous RK’s systems are he has done well inspite of all of this. DSF maybe it’s time you got a boy friend (or girlfriend) and stop being a D-bag. Get out of your basement, take off your rosé coloured glasses and stop harassing oiler fans. I personally would read ON more if you disappeared. But as for Shultz it is kinda hard to have great stats when the team around you has quit playing.

  • Citizen David

    Lets give DSF a break, he has never been the same since he found out his parents left him on someone’s door step and switched him for a box
    of kittens.

  • bored

    I think Brodin is a stud…Would love him on the Oilers. I also really like what I saw from JS, he makes me happy.

    Comparing them is stupid. You would have to be blind to not be excited to have either one on your team. Knowing how good Crosby is doesn’t make Hall any less good.

    That being said, he’s definitely not perfect. He may be Jack Johnson today, but I feel like with his hockey IQ and natural ability, his ceiling is Sergei Zubov who just happened to OWN the Oilers for a very long time.

      • bored

        I think he’s demonstrated a greater capacity than Barker, however that’s not a great benchmark. He has good offensive instincts and needs to improve defensively, which from experience is easier to do than the opposite of having good defensive instincts and trying to add offence.

        At this point, it is fair to say that the Oilers were given a gift when they were able to sign him, and he can contribute to a winning team even if he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove that. For me, he falls in to the Hall, RNH, Eberle, and Yak category of guys you would have to completely overpay to take away from us.

  • Citizen David

    If the question is who would I rather have, it’s Brodin hands down. But just cause I’d rather have Toews doesn’t mean I don’t want Duchene. I think J. Schultz will be just fine.

  • Rogue

    I see Drivel Spouting Fool is back to torment the Oil faithful. Once in a while,he does make sense. But his meager credibilty goes out the window here. All he would have to say is Congrats for Justin, but nope. Defying Sanity Forever, is truly a first class, classless moron.

  • DSF

    The reality is Schulz has real talent – offensive instincts that are amazing, good hands but he is still a rookie. He needs to be paired with a good stay at home dman and a team in a 5 on 5 system that is better than what we have shown. This Zone-Pressure-Gapping system is crap!

    We are lucky to have signed him especially when many other more well positioned clubs wanted him – including his own Draft club.

    Is he tired? Physically? Probably not – but mentally fatigued from the his first (half) season + the AHL, I would say he is.

  • Citizen David

    Schultz has done well being a first year pro , and looks good going forward . With Klefbom expected to make roster next season do we really need more draft picks to develop for now ? We have enough now to try and develop . Unless we win lottery , I expect they might trade that pick in some manner . We need players to surround our youth with already , not more youth at this stage .

    Have some fun and play GM revamping core outside the present failing one , for that looks like the way we intend to go . Leave the AHL players in AHL to develop another year

    We’ll probably draft 7-8th , and I would not mind going up to 20-30 if it helps get a major piece to play for us now . How important is our low first round pick in the grand scheme of things as they are now, if he can not make an immediate impact ?

    • Citizen David

      I would look to trade klefbom for a dman a year or two older that is ready for the nhl. Klefbom likely needs a year or two of ahl seasoning.

      I also wouldn’t trade our first this year. Good chance to get a high end centre or dman. I’m personally not a fan of trading firsts at all (unless you’re packaging it and getting a star). It’s good to have the cupboards full with top end prospects developing especially with prospects like pitlick and Hamilton looking unlikely to be impact players in the nhl.

  • Citizen David

    If I’m the Oilers GM I trade Eberle for a stud defenseman. Or the Gagner + Paajarvi + first round pick or whatever the heck the trade would be. Bottom line is our defense is WEAK. Until we improve the back end it will be hard for this team to move forward. If we could add a top pairing defenseman, and then add a puck mover like Ryan Ellis while ditching Whitney and Nick Schultz, then our team would do a lot better.

  • DSF

    No small feat considering he hasn’t played an AHL game since January. Schultz will be fine, he has been overworked this season and it’s natural for a college player to wear down near the end of his first pro season. His offense is obviously an asset but he does need to learn when to hold them and when to fold them. This isn’t the AHL anymore and bad pinches as well as jumping in the rush at the wrong times will burn you in the big league.

  • oilfan in yyc

    Why does DSF come to this site, go back to studying for your junior high exams. Karlsson won the Norris but didn’t deserve it, great offensive numbers, no defence, playing protected minutes. Shultz will be a much better all around defenseman.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    hahahaha

    you guys are hilarious.

    another day, another meaningless, contextless, malicious player comparison!

    who could have guessed?

    Thing is… there is no information gained by this exercise.

    Back to the subject:

    Schultz is awesome. This kid is going to very good, for a very long time. I’m delighted to have him. Can’t wait to watch him mature.

  • Dsf makes some good points. Rookie season or not it has been a Shakey one – especially as he’s a 23 yr old rookie.

    My one concern not mentioned so far is his lack of (or little use of?) a big shot from the point. It seems to me that the other teams know this and pressure him a lot more on the point as a result.

    But the jury is out – needing more evidence before delivering a ‘no doubt’ verdict. If he is another Johnson at least oil fans can console themselves that a whole bunch of other teams thought he was the bees knees too.

  • Spydyr

    RE: DSF

    I wish I had more time to waste, cause then I’d make a site called “sh!tDSFsays.com”. It would be a real hit….

    Not sure why people keeping feeding him, but the guy is ALL OVER THE MAP. When you make 1000 disparaging remarks eventually some come true. Some don’t. DSF likes to bring up the ones that pan out, and forget all his sh1t that doesn’t. I actually appreciate him because its entertaining. I spent 30 seconds and found this gem of a thread where DSF hijacks a thread much like this and argues how smart Dale Tallon is, and how the Panthers are “miles ahead” of the Oilers failed rebuild.

    http://oilersnation.com/2012/6/17/dale-tallon-things-get-worse-before-they-get-better

    You’d have a hay day if you wanted to summarize all of his conflicting statements, failed predictions and over the top comments. He is just full of piss and vinegar… Hopefully 12 months from now we’ll all be able to laugh about how negative he is when this team is preparing for a playoff run.

    My favorite is still DSF arguing all last summer and again as recent as a few weeks ago that Yakupov was not the best player in the draft, and that Peter Mueller is (and still is) a better player. Classic.

    #sh!tDSFsays

  • Wow, another perfectly good article completely ruined by Deliberate Stats Fudger. So annoying to have to fast forward 75% of the posts. So. Annoying.

    Every week I drift further and further from this site.

  • CaptainLander

    Schultz could get 120 points a season, be a plus 80, win a bunch of Stanley cups and Norris trophies and DSF would still rip into him because of the way he ties his skates. Haters gonna hate.

    Nothing wrong with Schultz’s first year in the NHL.

  • paul wodehouse

    … our very own liability…what must other sites think of us allowing such a thing like having a resident troll…you’ve allowed him to be that to the detriment of our OilersNation site…soooooooooooooo
    just once…if it’s at ALL possible…let the creature hijack a thread as you’ve all been saying since he arrived…hijack it and no one reply…no one…just once

    come on sheeple…can you do that? once…?

    imo Wanye should have pet troll t-shirts being marketed by ON…or have a photoshop contest immortizing all trolls including his nibs…

  • CaptainLander

    There once was a troll who lived under a dark, damp, old bridge. There was a path under the bridge which was used as a short cut by many from an adjacent village.

    Each and ever day the people using the path complained to the town master about a nasty smelly troll who would steal their food, and grab what ever he could. The town master was confused, as he too lived in the same village and used the same path, except when it came to crossing the bridge he would go over and not under it. He told all the village people about his short cut over the bridge and the problem was solved.

    The moral of the story is if you want to avoid a troll, then stop feeding it by avoiding it!

    BTW the poor old troll soon became hungry and moved to another bridge………his name was DSF.

  • Spydyr

    Of the 71 comments before this one 41 were either by or to DSF.

    It has ruined the comments section.Please stop feeding the troll.

    This is Oilers Nation not DSF nation.