Ship out Schultz? Why?

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I’ve been covering the Oilers since 2001, so rarely does much surprise me anymore. I’ve seen a lot, and sadly for Oilers fans, most of it has been losing. However, I’ll admit I’m surprised by how many people want to ship Justin Schultz out of town.

Maybe I shouldn’t be, considering I’ve seen this movie recently staring the likes of Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and many others, but none of those players heard the trade talk so early in their career.

Schultz has only played 122 games, yet many are convinced they know what type of player he’ll be and in their eyes he won’t help.

I strongly disagree.

I hate generalizations. Nothing irks me more than when someone says, “the media.” Lumping all media members together annoys the hell out of me. I don’t share the same beliefs as every media member, but often people throw a blanket over all media and assume they feel the same.

So let me preface my next statement by saying I understand that not all of those who believe in Corsi, Fenwick, etc want Schultz gone, but I’m surprised that many of the most vocal trade-Schultz crowd comes from that background.

The ironic part is that many of the people wanting to ship out Schultz are the same guys who have steadfastly defended Jeff Petry. It’s almost like people believe they have to trade one of those two and they are picking a side. It is plausible that both can stay in Edmonton, isn’t it?

Maybe it just reaffirms that we all have bias. We all do, and anyone who thinks they don’t is dreaming. Stats guys have bias to believe their numbers always lead to the correct analysis, watchers of the game believe what they see on the ice is correct, and all of us value players higher or lower for various reasons.

If we all agreed, it sure would be rather boring in the Nation so I hope that never changes.

Anyways, back to Schultz, who has played less than two full NHL seasons.

He is 27th in points over the that time and 29th in points-per-game for defencemen. He is also 6th in EV goals over the past two seasons. His offensive numbers are very good, and bordering on elite.

Where Schultz struggles is in his own zone.

His Corsi and Fenwick numbers have been less than stellar, and his defensive zone coverage has been lacking. I’d say that is due to his inexperience, him having to play more minutes than he should be at this stage of his career, and that he never had to be great defensively in college.

Schultz, like every Oilers D-man, has had to play tougher minutes than they are capable of handling and that has led to some tough nights.

For me, his first two seasons have unfolded very close to how I expected them to. He was touted as an offensive defenceman, and he’s lived up to that, but at the same time he’s struggled defensively.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The same was said about Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.

Hall has become a dominant player. Eberle has had two very good seasons, while Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov have had a tougher time.

Nugent-Hopkins plays a harder position than the other three forwards, and his lack of size and experience against big, skilled western centres has been rather apparent. I believe he will have the biggest improvement this season (more on that in another article).

Yakupov had an okay first season that ended in spectacular fashion with six goals in three games. He struggled last season, but if you mention trading Yakupov the same people who want Schultz traded were the first to come to Yak’s defence.

WHY THE DIFFERENCE?

Why are people more willing to move Schultz, but not Yakupov?

Both have been in the league the same time. I suspect part of it (trade talk) stems from how they have been used. People think Yakupov hasn’t been given the same opportunities as Schultz, and that he will produce once he gets more icetime.

That is possible, but isn’t it equally possible that Schultz will improve defensively with more experience?

The other perplexing thing for me is that winger is the only position currently where the Oilers have any depth. The Oilers don’t have another D-man who can produce offensively. If they trade Schultz who is going to fill his offensive totals?

If the Oilers trade Yakupov, at least they would still have Hall, Eberle, Perron, Purcell and Pouliot.

I’m not saying they should trade Yakupov, I’m just trying to understand why so many believe trading Schultz is the right move.

WRAP UP

Schultz has very good instincts in the offensive zone. He has a deceptively good wrist/snap shot and if he learns to shoot more on the PP, I suspect his offensive totals will improve even more. Schultz is on the verge of being a great offensive D-man, and that’s why I’m hesitant, in fact I’m loathe, to trade him at this point.

I fully realize that he has struggled defensively, but he can learn that part of the game. It is extremely rare that players suddenly become better offensive players in the NHL, but many offensive players have improved defensively.

I’m confident Schultz’s defensive zone coverage will improve, especially with the addition of Craig Ramsey, and that’s why I wouldn’t deal him.

At this point I wouldn’t trade any of Petry, Schultz or Yakupov, because their value is low and there is no way you would fetch a 2nd line centre for any of them.

I’d keep Schultz, but I’m surprised at how quickly some think he is more of the problem than the solution.

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  • PlayDirty

    The same people that are getting on Gregor for this Shultz comment sound a lot like the ones who wont let MacT’s “bold moves” comment go.

    The truth is, he’s ours now. Let’s hope he keeps improving to the point that we have to figure out how to pay for him because he’s a superstar.

  • Spoils

    Such a fun player when it’s going right for him. Remember him leading the AHL in scoring as a D.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM7OHTPkpnk

    take a look at some of those sneaky goals. great wrist shot.

    His D will improve, the teams D will improve, the goaltending will never again be that bad.

    Nobody can predict the future, but I would bet on him.

    I hope MacT locks him in with a value contract.

  • Spoils

    I disagree with Roobin. He seems to say that the oilers wont get a centerman through trade. However, Ryan Rishaug seems to think that that is the route the oilers will go to find their man.

  • Oil Vice

    It wouldn’t be a wise trade. He’s developing. It’s too early and wouldn’t get fair value anyways . He’s got some of the best offensive instincts we’ve seen in a while on the back end.

    • I think we’d get better than fair value. He’s hyped up, and has this “blossoming star” status that I can’t see him ever living up to. If the gm aquiring him is willing to pay for his “potential” and he never fulfills it, oilers win the trade.

      He’s only played 122 games so you can’t make any proper assessment as to what he will become. All you can do is look at what he’s done and determine that right now at the current moment he sucks defensively. Will be ever improve? Maybe, but I wouldnt pay him for ifs and maybes.

      It’s just as likely that he won’t improve as it is that he will

  • Subban and Karlsson were pretty bad in their own zone a year or two ago. Doughty was terrible at one point as well. I’m not Saying Jultzy is going to be as good as them, just saying you won’t know what you have till you getu to 200 games or so. He’s right, you can teach defense, but you can’t teach offense.

    Who do you want on the point on the power play? Jultzy or a forward. I personally hate forwards playing the point

    • camdog

      An interesting stat, last year Karlsson lead the NHL with 115 give aways. Not sure what that tells us other than players who have the puck a lot tend to have a lot of giveaways. Doughty was 11 th with 82 giveaways.

      BTW Hall was 2nd with 100 giveaways, but also had 76 takeaways (4th most).

  • Oilers4ever

    Gotta agree with Jason on this mostly. Personally I would trade Yak when his value is higher. I don’t know what it is but he seems like a prima dona. His way only, not big on defense. I don’t see him as a 40 goal guy unless he learns to play both ends. And regardless of what he says if he doesn’t get what he wants I see him bolting to the KHL. But that’s just my opinion. I see lots of upside in Schultz. I do think with the one year contract with Petry he will be traded at some time before the next trade deadline.

  • Oilers4ever

    I would be really nervous about shipping out
    some of these young guys after only a year or
    two. Time and better coaching may be the answer
    for some of these players. I get a bad feeling
    when we give up too soon. Look how many guys
    have gone on to be solid players for other teams!
    It could screw us down the road!

  • bd

    Jason – with respect to the title of your article. You have to remember it takes no knowledge, experience or credibility to comment either on line or on the air. Somehow we need to stop giving so much credit to the vocal minority who think running a hockey team is like running a fantasy team and that the players are like hockey cards – keep-em, trade-em – whatever it’s just a piece of paper.

  • camdog

    I say trade Schultz just so there’s a team we can take advantage of having him on the ice. Who cares what the return is, we’d be a better team just by getting to play against Jultz. Just keep him in our division so we can play against him more

      • camdog

        Haha, yes I’m the one that sounds like he’s in ninth grade. In 2 years Jultz is a career minus 39. If the oilers got to play against him 6 times a year, facts and stats show it would improve the oilers record. Also simply by not having him on the team and replacing him with an average defenceman would help.

        Don’t let your man crush and blind faith get in the way of facts and stats

  • camdog

    On an aside there are only 2 players that shouldn’t be moveable this off season. Those players are Hall and RNH. If the right deal comes our way, nobody else should be designated a “core” player. That line of thinking doesn’t allow you to improve your team.

  • Rdubb

    Can anyone remember that OTT d-man who was not very good in his first or second season in the NHL and now there are 29 other teams who want him or a player like him? What’s that guys name again, can you all say Karlsson…
    I’m not even going to go back and look up his numbers, but if I had to guess, they’d be somewhat similar to those of Justin’s, albeit that Justin has had to play much harder minutes against much tougher competition much earlier in his development as Karlsson had other d-men to take that on where as Justin has not…even now, I see the OTT coaching staff somewhat sheltering him…
    just my thoughts…
    Peck

    • camdog

      Karlsson, Del Zotto and Shultz are all 24. In 5 seasons Karlsson continues to thrive, Del Zotto, thrived and then fell off the map, he wasn’t even qualified by Nashville this past off season. Sure Shultz could up his game and then we could talk with him in the same respect as Karllson, however in 2-3 years we could be comparing him to Del Zotto as well.

  • Jayz

    All depends on the return, same goes for anyone on the team not named Hall-RNH. So much potential on this team, but I fear similar results if they don’t gel really fast. Also goaltending is still an issue, don’t kid yourselves… Those guys are very unproven and I pray the pressure of this hockey insane city doesn’t break them both ..