Don’t Expect a Massive Payday for Justin Schultz

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Taylor Hall got $6.0 million per season coming out of his entry-level contract. So did Jordan Eberle. So did Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

By the sounds of it, Justin Schultz will not be joining the club.

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Craig MacTavish talked to the media from Jasper on Monday, and after discussing the deal with Jeff Petry he was asked whether we could expect to see a similar announcement with regard to Schultz. His answer was illuminating.

“That’s still ongoing,” he said, before offering some optimism. “I think that both sides fully expect to get a deal. We want to treat Justin very, very fairly.”

Well, that sounds good for Schultz, right?

“He’s working his way through the system,” MacTavish said. “I guess at this point that’s probably the friction point. When you even compare him to guys on our team, where he fits in is not going to be entirely reflective of our value of him, it’s more a reflection of the system and where he is in the system.”

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When MacTavish talks about where Schultz fits in, he must mean financially. In other words, he hopes the defenceman doesn’t take it personally when the Oilers pay him less than his high-profile teammates at forward.

Kid Gloves

Craig MacTavish2

But while the Oilers clearly seem to have a line they don’t want to cross in terms of payment, that doesn’t mean they want to alienate a player they see as a key piece moving forward. As evidence of that, MacTavish offered the team’s decision not to take Schultz to club-elected arbitration.

“We didn’t file,” he said. “The thinking there was that we didn’t want to go through that divisive process with [Schultz]. He’s very much one of our core players and the last thing we want to do is get into that type of relationship with a guy like that because he’s got huge upside.”

That’s a pretty decent rationale, but there’s another good one, too. Sportsnet’s Tyler Dellow put it plainly:

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It’s pretty hard to put a number on defensive performance. It’s really easy to say, “yes, but POINTS!” and with Schultz leading the Oilers in average time on ice last season Edmonton would have some trouble arguing he was the disaster in his own end that he so often was.

Avoiding the route where the team hammers the player in front of the arbitrator and still ends up paying him money because he’s put points on the board seems like a smart route for the Oilers. We’ll see where the dollars come in on the final contract but from this vantage point the team’s resistance to just giving him the wunderkind special also seems like an intelligent way to proceed.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS


  • Spoils

    Doughty’s D has taken big steps forward and I happen to think Schultz will be the same.

    I hope MacT leverages Schultz’ weak position to get a long term deal done… buy the extra years now.

    Take a look at how much PK is going to cost Montreal.

    • Mason Storm

      Don’t compare Schultz and PK, they are miles apart. PK is going to get paid because of a Norris and all the points he puts up. Schultz will get paid because there’s no better option

      • Spoils

        I’m not suggesting they are at the same level, rather that a bridge deal can lead to big longterm costs. So for a player who we believe we will want long term AND has just put up weak numbers, is a mistake.

        Lock in a long term deal at lower numbers now while we have the bargaining position.

        • judgedrude

          True, it can lead to long term costs but is that not a good problem to have when you are sure of what you have in the player? The alternative is to overpay him now when he is unproven and end up being stuck with a terrible contract if he does not progress. Pretty big gamble to take.

          • camdog

            I agree. The ‘bridge deal’ is exactly what players 15 years ago expected – it was called their second contract. We seem to have forgotten that this was the norm in the past. Let players actually prove themselves and then pay them well. Seems logical to me. The risk of having to pay more for a great player seems like a problem most teams would be happy to have. Using PK as an example, is there a team in the league who wouldn’t want to be in that negotiation process right now? They have had him for 5 years on the cheap. Time to pay up and they still have a valuable asset/trading chip should the dollars get tight in 4-5 years. Works for me.

          • Zarny

            It’s a matter of risk management.

            PK Subban reportedly wanted 5 yr @ $5M per. With a bridge contract Mtl saved $4.25M the last 2 seasons.

            Subban is going to get $8M plus now which means Mtl will spend an additional $9-10M over the next 3 seasons. You really think spending an additional $9-10M over the next 3 seasons is a good problem to have? That’s a 3rd line player Mtl can no longer afford.

            Subban had 53 pt in his AHL season and 38 and 36 PT his first 2 NHL seasons. Andy MacDonald and his career high of 28 PT got $5M last year. The odds of Subban under performing @ $5M were as close to zero as it gets.

            In a terrible year perhaps Mtl would have been overpaying Subban by a few hundred thousand. On a really good year, like say when he wins the Norris trophy or tops 50 PT, Subban outperforms $5M by $2-3M.

            It was terrible asset management by Mtl. Instead of having Subban signed to a value contract they are going to pay full market price. In a cap system paying full market price is never a good thing.

    • Serious Gord

      Drew doughty stepped up to the best in the world level TWO Olympics ago (and those who watched him play with the kings say he was top flite even before then).

      Doughty is seven MONTHs older than Shultz. I think you will be waiting an awfully long time before Shultz dramatically steps up his game. What youre going to see isn’t going to be much better than what you have already seen

      • Serious Gord

        Doughty didn’t play 4 years in the NCAA and he also didn’t start in the NHL at age 22.

        Not saying Schultz will be like Doughty (I see more like a better version of Visnovsky) but give him some time before you assume he can’t get better

        Petry and Schultz both started in the NHL late and Schultz has out scored him 60 to 30 points in roughly the same games played.

        • Serious Gord

          please read my comments further up the page re: his room for improvement being more limited going forward than a younger sub-20 yr old.

          I think it’s safe to say that Shultsz has been used much more often in offensive situations including PP than petry has, thus explaining some of the points difference, and of course when it comes to d-men points are a small part of what separates a good one from a poor one.

      • acesaaron

        I don’t get what comparing Doughty with Schultz adds to the discussion.

        Comparing even vey good Dmen with Doughty is difficult. Doughty is a very exceptional D-man who could excel in the NHL when he was what 19? At the same age Duncan Keith and Peterangelo were both still playing Jr.

        I don’t think anyone expects Schultz to be as good as Doughty, so what’s the point of bringing him into the discussion?

    • Zarny

      You have to be realistic with comparisons.

      Doughty is a freak who had 74 pt as an underage Jr player. He’s a generational talent who would have been drafted 1st overall by a mile if Stamkos wasn’t in the same year. He was one of Canada’s best D at the Olympics during his 2nd year in the NHL at 20 y/o.

      That’s not Justin Schultz I’m afraid. He has a lot of upside and should certainly improve his defensive game. I think given his upside the Oilers should at least consider a longer term contract depending on what Schultz will sign for.

      But he’s not Drew Doughty. Not even close.

      • Spoils

        OK everybody needs to relax. I am not suggesting Schultz is as good as Doughty or PK. I am saying Doughty had real struggles defensively and was a question mark early on for LA. I live in LA and I lived through that amongst their fans.

        PK is about to get a crazy amount of cash and Montreal should have known he was going to get it.

        Mark my words. Schultz will improve and we will end up paying A LOT more for him in the long run.

        PLEASE BE CLEAR I am not comparing Schultz’ ability I am comparing the situation. The Oilers have a great opportunity to lock in a long term deal for LOW overall money precisely because they know what they’ve got.

        A 2 year bridge with a follow on contract will cost us a lot more.

        And we need the cap space with all the talent coming up.

        • supra steve

          Flames went the bridge deal with TJ Brodie last summer, 2 yr at $2.125mil/yr. Less than one year into that two year deal it became quite clear that long term would have been the better way to go for the Flames with this player. Next summer TJ is going to get a BIG raise, AND the term he wanted last summer.

      • Serious Gord

        exactly – the older the player gets, the narrower the distance between current performance and maximum upside. Jultz’ brief pro career complicates things because we know so little about him yet he’s 24 already.

        the risk of a longer contract doesn’t justify the limited potential reward.

  • Mac T can sure talk the talk… “it’s more a reflection of the system and where he is in the system.” If he signs him to $3 mil or less I’ll be very impressed.

    He also has to very wise and savvy with this one, as it will set a standard for Yakupov next summer. Barring a break out season, Yaks is another young talent who has under performed and is also due for a similar pay cut, I think we can all agree on that!

  • Aitch

    Schultz strikes me as the type of player that will holdout if he doesn’t get what he wants. After all, you have to consider how he ended up in Edmonton in the first place. He passed up contracts in Anaheim for a couple of years before he got to free agency. Sitting out a couple of weeks/months probably won’t bother him. The only reason I could see him not sitting out is if the pressure from the rest of the OKC4 is to not miss any games so that the team doesn’t get behind the eight-ball out of the gate again.

  • I don’t get why they refer to him as a core player.

    Why were people suggesting a 1-2 year deal for Petry, but long term for J Schultz?

    Right now if he is part of the core that is a big part of the problem. Yes he has proven he can put up points………but most of those points are by leaving his post on the blue line and going to the net.

    Nobody knows if he will ever develop the defensive side of the game. If he doesn’t he is a small winger playing defence and we are stuck with a long term contract.

    • camdog

      Right now he is Sam Gagner mode. An offensively productive player, whom may never figure out his defensive responsibilities.

      As an organisation we have been over playing young guys, in roles that they don’t belong in. This has lead to elevated minutes, elevated production, however stunted some of their defensive learnings.

      This has lead to some of our young talent, 3 consecutive GM’s and 4 head coaches believing they are better than they really are. We as an organisation have failed at judging our own for 8 consecutive seasons. Maybe Mact is figuring it out, won’t really know until about Christmas.

      • Shultz belongs in the roll we are playing him. Same with Hall, ebs and RNH. Remember Shultz numbers in OKC? The Ahl is the 2nd or 3rd most competive leauge in the world. Next to maybe the KHL. He needs what we are giving him to evolve. He is not being rushed by any means. You could argue Gags was rushed or cogs.. But our “kids” now.. Are not being rushed. They have all been shown that they have the skill to play at the highest level. Now its about putting that skill together as a team. All to be productive as a team, not a individual.

  • Serious Gord

    As has been discussed elsewhere, arbitration isn’t an attractive option for players in EDM because geography and playing for bad management cannot be credited to the player by the arbitrator. Holding out is the better option.

    I wonder how MacT would handle such an event compared to Klowe?

    • acesaaron

      KLowe would have taken Justin Schultz to arbitration just to remind him who is the “one who knows a thing or two about winning”. He always seemed to have a big chip on his shoulder and wanted to drive that chip right down a players throat during a difference of opinion regarding contract, pay etc
      (Note the Comrie and Smyth fiascos). That is probably one of the main reasons Edmonton was viewed as such a bad place to play for the last 10 years.

  • No I in Team.

    After whaching Tambo’s incompetence I’m not sure anyone could screw things up worse. I think we can all agree that MacT is a pretty smart guy. I never would have guessed he could have fixed this much so quickly. I’m kinda impressed, but more importantly he’s given us a light in a very dark tunnel. The Jultz deal will be the right one given HIS big picture. I’m sure of it.

  • Big K

    I understand that there is some nervousness regarding the Schultz contract. What I don’t understand is why so many posters want MacT to win the negotiation.

    The purpose behind a negotiation is to arrive at a settlement that both sides are comfortable with. Even the suggestion that one side wins is counter productive. It is not about winning. It is about signing a contract that is fair to both sides.

    Based on the verbal from MacT he seems to have a realistic approach to the process. If the Oilers win now, chances are that Schultz will win big later. I hope they arrive at a fair deal. It will be in the Oilers best long term interests.

  • bazmagoo

    I think a bridge contract for 2 years at between 2.5 and 3 million would be appropriate for Justin Schultz considering his relative inexperience and uneven play to date. Braydon Schenn signed for 2 years, 5 million recently with Philly, I’d say he’s a reasonable comparable. Schenn was a 5th overall pick though, Schultz was a 43rd overall pick, so Schenn technically has a higher pedigree. Schenn has also played more games in the league to date.

  • Spiel

    If Schultz signs a bridge contract, it will be his bridge off the Oilers. Pay him or he leaves as soon as he can as a UFA. Kid wants to get paid. That’s why he came here.

    • bazmagoo

      I’m not 100% certain of this, but I believe if we sign him to a bridge deal for 2 years he will still be RFA at the end of the 2 year term. That is what MacT is referring to when he says that Schultz is stuck in the system.

      • Spiel

        That’s if Schultz agrees to a two year deal.
        Look at it from his perspective.

        -Plays the most minutes of any player on the team

        -Is most offensive d-man the Oilers have on their team or in their system.

        -Offensive d-men are paid a premium in the NHL.

        -Hall, Eberle, and Nuge were paid huge dollars at an even younger age on contracts that only give up two or three years of their UFA earnings.

        But, now the Oilers are telling him that they don’t think he is as important as the other youngsters even though he plays the most minutes at his position on the team?

        He may be “stuck in the system” but this is a player who remained an amateur when he could have started his pro career earlier in order to choose a destination where he would play (ie get paid) right away.

        Schultz chose the Oilers probably because they promised him he would be part of their young core (who at the time were getting $6m/yr contracts) and now they are telling him he is “stuck in the system”? What about the other core players? They were not fed that line of being stuck in the system.

        At some point the Oilers will need to give him the big payday to get him to stay. A series of bridge deals will only serve to push him out the door, or make his ask higher on a long term deal. Of course he could flop, but in that case the Oilers are probably screwed anyway as they are counting on him as a cornerstone right now.

        Schultz could have asked for arbitration on this contract, but didn’t. That’s a sign of good faith on his side. If he is “rewarded” by the GM telling him he is stuck, what do you think Schultz will do after this bridge contract? Schultz might take his points totals to arbitration next time and the Oilers would be forced to pay him the arbitrator’s award or let him go.

    • acesaaron

      If that is the case, let him walk. The numbers say we can sign Jamie McBain and still do OK from a defensive perspective. He can get what’s best for him in lots of places but not sure that will endear him to a team that wants to win…after all, isn’t that part of the equation too??

  • Zarny

    Dicey call with Schultz. He certainly needs to reduce the risk in his game and get better defensively. Not surprising considering experience wise he’s still less than halfway through a sophomore season.

    For better or worse though points do get paid and Schultz had 46 pt (pro-rated) and 33 pt in his first 2 seasons. 33 pt last year placed him with Voynov, Garrison, Ehrhoff and Jack Johnson. Those 4 came with a cap hit of $4.167M, $4.6M, $4M and $4.357 respectively.

    The Oilers could certainly get Schultz at a discount for 2 years on a bridge but with the anticipated increase in the cap inflation is inevitable.

    If the Oilers can lock Schultz up @ $4M for 5-6 years they should consider it. That certainly comes with a bit of risk but given his offense and the likelihood his defensive game will improve as he approaches 200-300 games it could also be a value contract in 3 years.

    And value contracts are in short supply in Edmonton.

  • Im_Jr

    PK signed a bridge contract for $5.75/2yrs after similar PPG start as J.Schultz. PK is a bigger physical threat but similar to J. Schultz, a defensive liability at times. Schultz needs to sign a 2 yr bridge contract for what he’s been making $3.78M/yr (which he’s lucky to make)and prove he’s worth more then that.

      • The bonuses were very easily attained. I would be very surprised if he got less than that. Remember back to his recruitment. Lots of promises made regarding ice time, etc and he has been called part of the core moving forward. Well, the other 3 in that core who are done their elc got 6 years at $6 million. No bridge deals there.

  • Im_Jr

    MacT. has pretty much gutted most of Tams players out of here other than first round picks at NBR.1 . Coaches included . Only a few AHL’ers remain such as Klefbom ,Marincin , Landers and Arco from the Tam era . Petry remains , and Schultz more of a joint venture . This is Craig’s team and Schultz is expected to be a main feature in it . I think MacT. will give him slight raise over the $3.775 M and be a short term at this time . Merit contract based on last two years with possible bonus clauses .

  • Zarny

    @Serious Gord

    Why do you think it will be “an awfully long time before Shultz dramatically steps up his game”?

    He’s played all of 122 NHL games. Most D step up their game between 200-300 games which is another 1-2 seasons for Schultz. I’m not talking Drew Doughty level; I doubt Schultz will ever be that good.

    To assume what we’ve seen from Schultz over a measly season and a half is as good as it gets is just plain silly.

    • Serious Gord

      He’s 24. He’s not going to get any bigger nor skate much faster or hit harder or shoot much harder. That’s very different from most guys with the little amount of pro hockey experience he has.

      His only real significant area of improvement can be the mental one. And while that could help a lot I don’t think there was much improvement during last season – though oilers management has publically said there has been.

      • Zarny

        Fair enough. At 24 I don’t think Schultz has reached his physical prime, but he’s not going to make the gains a 20 y/o would make over the next 2-3 years that is for sure.

        I think the mental improvement though has a lot of upside. I do think there was improvement last year but how much is certainly debatable.

        • Serious Gord

          And to be fair, both he and petry have been thrown into the deep end with out any on-ice mentors who are legit first liners thus learning/improving is more difficult. Perhaps this year with a bit more help – albeit still not 1st line quality – they can develop/improve at a satisfactory rate.

        • Serious Gord

          Which is why a bridge deal makes sense.

          Too many fans here assuming Schultz will emerge into the player they fantasize him to be. He was awful for much of last season. He may become great or this may be all there is to him. We don’t know yet.

          • Zarny

            Sorry, but Schultz was not “awful” for much of last year. He certainly needs to improve his defensive play but 33 PT is not “awful”. That was actually good for 38th in D scoring last year. In the lockout season he was tied for 12th in D scoring.

            To completely dismiss offensive production simply doesn’t mesh with NHL reality. Points gets you paid. See Brian Campbell. And given his ice-time it’s unlikely that Schultz’ offensive production will drop.

            This isn’t about Schultz becoming great. I mentioned $4M for a longer term deal. $4M isn’t what a great Dmen get paid. If Schultz becomes great he’ll get $6-8M.

            I agree we don’t know exactly what Schultz will be yet but with 33 PT last year and 27 PT in 48 games during the lockout there is a pretty good indication offensively.

            A 2 year bridge contract equal to Subbans would save the Oilers $2.25M over the next 2 seasons compared to a $4M longer term deal. They would have to resign him for $4.75M or less to break even over the following 3 seasons compared to a 5 yr $4M deal now.

            Niskanen basically nabbed $5.75M off one 46 PT season. Given his offensive production and inflation due to the cap going up Schultz doesn’t need to improve much to top $4.75M 2 years from now.

            And if he does improve a lot the Oilers could have a very nice value contract on the roster.

  • Zarny

    I think Jultz will get a two year deal/ Deadline to prove his worth. You have guys coming up though the system that are offensive specialists, like Joey Lallegia to fill the power play specialist spot after this time. If Schultz gets a 2 year/ 4.5 per contract I will be happy, but he will have to prove his worth or he is traded before his potential value diminishes. I think he has been surrounded by competent defense-man that can play now and his inept defensive play will stick out more if he doesn’t improve this year.

  • Zarny

    Willis inquiry : Can the Oilers offer Schultz a base salary of $3.775 M with bonuses that will not effect the cap hit for this year over the base amount until end of year if he reaches those bonuses ? With bonuses he could still do very well if he reaches them . Example only : Say an additional $1.255 -$2.225M making him well paid if he blossoms . Secondly , did Schultz get all his bonuses last two seasons ?

    • Craig1981

      I couldn’t find anything on Oilersfan69 comment (not sure its wrong though). But regardless, if bonuses are reached then your cap decreases next year….not how you want to run your club. And besides if I am a player I would never sign that, what if I got hurt….or my coach wanted me to play less min, etc.

  • Zarny

    @Spoils

    Here is the thing…Doughty did not have real struggles defensively and was never a question mark in LA.

    He had 27 PT his rookie season followed by 59 PT in his 2nd year. He was sound defensively from day 1 and improved to the point where he was one of Canada’s best D at the Olympics halfway through his 2nd year.

    Whether you look at TOI, Corsi and possession numbers or his Vollman sledgehammer there was nothing iffy about Drew Doughty from the moment he stepped onto NHL ice.

    I agree the Oilers should consider a longer term contract for Schultz if it is ~ $4M. Given Schultz’ offensive production and when you see guys like Oduya, Grossman, Smid, Luke Schenn and Jared Cowan sitting between $3.1-3.6M it’s unlikely Schultz under-performs $4M by more than a few hundred thousand in a bad year.

    But realistically Schultz is also limited by how much he could over-perform $4M/yr. If he hits 45 ish PT with a modest improvement in his defensive game he still only gets ~ $5.5M. The risk that Schultz will improve enough to be a Norris candidate worth $7-8M in 2 years is almost non-existent.

    So if Schultz wants $5M for a long term deal you have to say no. At best, he’d likely only over-perform that contract by ~ $500K. On a bad year he could under-perform $5M by $1-1.5M. That’s too much risk for the upside.

  • acesaaron

    I also think that MacT should take a fairly diplomatic approach that there is a cap and this is a results based business. Didn’t want to sign a contact before the end of the season? Well, there is a limited amount of money left now after the UFA period and the bar is now set with the Petry signing. Take it up with your agent Justin. And why do you think you justify such a high contract? Not an all-star or Norris candidate and the team is in 28th place last year. We shouldn’t reward that performance with ludicrous contracts. Once again, MacT is likely basing his arguments on analytics but is mindful of the relationship he needs to keep with Justin as well.

  • Marc-Andre Bergeron: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=35604

    Goals per game: 0.17
    Assists per game: 0.31

    Points per game: 0.48
    PIMS per game: 0.44

    Justin Schultz: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=113177

    Goals per game: 0.16
    Assists per game: 0.34
    Points per game: 0.49
    PIMS per game: 0.20

    EDIT: This ignores Time On Ice, but know that Schultz is playing much more than Bergeron did. For example in 2003-04, (Bergeron’s first half-season in NHL), he averaged 17:39.
    In 2012-13 (Schultz’s first half-season in NHL), he averaged 21:27.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    I agree, treat him well and other young dman will choose Edmonton given the opportunity.

    Danny Dekeyser type defenseman will consider Edmonton the best option…