Justin Schultz: One-Year Deal?


As the summer drags on, Justin Schultz’s status as a restricted free agent has become increasingly conspicuous. All of the Oilers’ other in-house business seems to be done, leaving Schultz as the last item on the internal to-do list.

Is a one-year deal the way to resolve the situation?

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In the opening portion of Monday’s show, Bob Stauffer floated the idea of a one-year contract for Schultz:

Justin Schultz: don’t be alarmed, this is an easily rectifiable situation on a short-term bridge deal. Either one – and at this stage right now maybe a one-year deal might make the most sense – or possibly a two-year deal. I do think that Craig MacTavish, the Oilers general manager and his staff, were probably willing to investigate going longer, but I’m getting a sense that maybe Don Meehan’s group thinks ‘Hey, let’s do a short-term thing and see where Justin Schultz is at.’

He further cautioned that an impasse in negotiations is not necessarily reflective of a worsening relationship between team and player.

This is not a situation like what’s going on in Columbus, where there’s been virtually no discussion with Ryan Johansen’s camp and the Columbus Blue Jackets. I think the Oilers easily can get a one-year deal done on Justin. My guess is that Newport Sports would bet that the Oilers would make some form of improvement and that Justin Schultz’s numbers correspondingly would improve as a result and that would put them in a better bargaining position carrying forward.

A Way Out


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It’s not hard to come up with a pretty decent list of reasons why this negotiation would be complex.

First, Schultz is coming off a bonus-laden rookie contract; he’s not going to be thrilled with taking a pay reduction. Second, while he’s still struggling defensively he’s a guy with significant offensive ability – and even on the blue line, players with points tend to get paid. Third, he entered the organization in a unique way (unrestricted free agency at a very young age) and now has minimal leverage. Finally, he’s only played 122 NHL games; a season and a half.

Put it all together and Schultz’s camp has significant pressure not to take a long-term deal at a low-dollar figure while the Oilers have minimal incentive to send a bunch of money his way.

Bridge deals are often used to solve these kind of logjams. One year from now, Schultz should be sitting around 200 NHL games and just maybe we’ll have seen a full season from him as part of a reasonably competitive blue line. If Schultz shines, Edmonton can feel better about paying him; if he struggles he should be amenable to a lower-end deal.

One year – presumably at a number that starts with “2” – just might be the best solution for both parties.


  • Serious Gord

    While Schultz appears to have high level offensive talent, he has not yet demonstrated that he has sufficient defensive ability to warrant a mega type of deal. In the event he shows that level of talent, both offensive and defensive, the Oilers will pay and they should.

    Until that happens the Schultz contract should be a fair bridge deal so that both he and the Oilers can better peg exactly what he is going to bring to the table. This would simply make good business sense.

  • justDOit

    This is probably how this negotiation is proceeding:

    Jultz/Agent: “We want X because Justin led his team in ice time last season – proving how important he was to the team.”

    MacT: “We’re prepared to offer X/2, because Justin led his team in ice time last season, and that team had a -67 goal differential.”

    • Gordie Wayne

      Now that you and Jonathon have both basically predicted a 1 year deal, we should see an 8 year deal sometime this week…isn’t that the way it works??? 😉

  • The Last Big Bear

    Justin Schultz on a one year deal at 2-point-something might be best for both sides?


    If you were Justin’s agent, you would tell him the best he can do is a one year deal as the 13th highest paid skater, and 5th highest paid defenceman? On the team where he leads all skaters in ice time, and leads the blue line in scoring?

    That he should settle for a one-year deal, where he makes less than literally every non-rookie defenceman on the team? On a team that has $8m+ in cap space?

    I don’t know if that qualifies as “best for both sides”, and id call it closer to “spitting directly in the face of the player who is relied on for more game time than any other skater on the team”.

    • The Soup Fascist

      The way the system works is RFAs do not have a ton of leverage. Schultz got the $3.5 million / yr deal 3 years ago because he loopholed into what was essentially UFA status.

      The shoe is on the other foot now and he does not hold a ton of cards until he is a UFA again.

      The Nikitin’s of the world are not $4.5 MM / year defensemen because of their talent level, but because of their free agent status. It just is the way the world works. That is why PK Subban signed the crappy deal 2 years ago.

      Where the Oilers have dropped the ball is by not putting the boots to guys in their RFA years. Eberle could have been signed far cheaper, IMO. Hall is a bargain. RNH will likely be a bargain.

      Hopefully the Oilers do not kowtow to the demands of a guy with no leverage. Really, where is he going to go? But Oilers management do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings so expect the number to start with 3.

      • You are right. Although I would suggest Nikitin is still not worth 4.5, but I agree with your point.

        Schultz can go to geopolitically precarious Russia for a year if he wants more money. He looked lousy last year…I can’t believe this is even being discussed.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Yeah, the money is in Russia but there are a lot of N.A. guys who came home pretty quickly with some scary stories. Personally, I don’t see Schultz going there, but who knows?

          Schultz had a bad year. Not sure he ever is going to be a stalwart defender and his shot is not scaring anyone. Very good skater, great passer and accurate wrister but teams figured him out pretty quickly.

          The guy would appear to be Mike Green without the bomb. He has some value but he has to improve a lot before anyone sees him as a top pairing guy, I would think.

        • The Soup Fascist

          And I get that. Both sides are keenly aware that once the term gets into buying UFA years that there is a balance between the “bargain” RFA years and lottery cheque UFA years.

          Easy for me to play Monday morning quarterback, now. Overall Oilers, did a good job in this regard. Hall should be a steal, Eberle right now, looks like a slight overpay and RNH should be a good deal. We will see.

          I will be interested to see what they do with Yak. TUG, do you think there is a finite number of long term guys a team should have (dependant on dollars, obviously), or “the more the merrier”?

          • TUG, do you think there is a finite number of long term guys a team should have (dependant on dollars, obviously), or “the more the merrier”?

            It’s a precarious balancing act.

            In theory, the longer the term, provided it is given to a young enough player who can play hockey, the better the chance it becomes a good contract later on.

            The trick is that you can’t give term to diminishing assets or players who are not good enough to ever earn the money.

            The other difficulty is that it requires a varying degree of risk. The riskier the deal the less likely it is to pay off, but it pays off at a much better rate when it does.

            This means, as a manager, you have to take calculated gambles to compete, and not all of them will pay off, which is why you really need to do your homework.

    • Serious Gord

      I don’t know what the dollar figure should be – but in the neighbourhood of four seems reasonable.

      Are you also upset with the one year term idea too?

      • The Last Big Bear

        How much is he worth to the Oilers?

        Every other non-rookie defenceman on the team will be making north of $3m, and only one of them is on a 1-year deal.

        If you can’t even offer him that, you may as well get him a custom embossed coffee mug that says “Least Valued Defenceman”.

        “Sorry Schultzy, $3m is pretty steep, we can’t break out that kind of scratch for guys like YOU. Only every single winger in the top-9, three of our four centres, and every non-rookie defenceman on the team gets a contract like that. Guys like you have to make do with what’s left. Well, actually less than 1/3 of what’s left. We need to keep a bunch of cap space in case we have to throw a $3m+ contract at someone else. Who’s not you. Because you’re not worth that much to us. Just to be clear.”

        I don’t know whether Schultz is looking for term or not. But if he was a UFA and demanding a one-year deal I suspect he’d be getting offers in the region of 4-point-something. Given the Oilers’ difficulty in attracting and retaining talent, he should be worth at least that much to them despite being an RFA. And i think its a very poor decision to try strong-arming this kid over a one-year deal. If Schultz signs it acrimoniously and walks at the end, what does it take to replace him?

        • Zarny

          Here is the thing though…Schultz isn’t a UFA.

          If PK Subban was a UFA 2 years he would have got a lot more than a 2 yr bridge @ $5.75M. Kadri would have gotten a lot more from the Leafs. Johansen would likely get 7 yr @ $6M/yr from someone. Ryan O’Reilly would have gotten more too.

          Welcome to being an RFA in the NHL. The support group meets every third Wednesday of every second month.

          It’s silly to suggest the Oilers are trying to strong-arm Schultz into a 1 year deal. From the Oilers perspective a 2-3 year deal would be preferable for the simple fact that the face-plant to start last season put a stank on all things Oilers last year.

          The Oilers could finish 27th with 77 PT next year and Schultz’ cons would likely still look better than last season and it’s highly unlikely his pros (TOI and points) take a hit putting him in a better bargaining position.

          Not to mention Schultz couldn’t walk anywhere after 1 year because he’d still be an RFA.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Some people just don’t get it. Are you related to Kblowe? The Last Big Bear has hit the nail on the head. The oilers overpaid every D-man they signed this year and then when it comes to signing the one guy who actually chose the oil over many other teams they try to screw him just because they can. It’s no wonder we have been the worst team in the league for 8 years and counting. If we continue to operate like a no class circus we will never attract desirable players. Just cause you can screw a guy it doesn’t mean you should. Gee, I wonder why we couldn’t attract any free agent centers?

          • Zarny

            Trying to screw him?

            Good grief, give your head a shake.

            First, The Last Big Bear is a Flames fan and will trash whatever deal the Oilers end up signing Schultz to.

            Second, Schultz isn’t entitled to anything. Based on his performance on the ice he will be well compensated. He will get ice time out the whazoo, lots of PP minutes and every opportunity to improve and make boatloads of cash.

            That isn’t screwing a guy. Quite the opposite actually.

            Try reality sometime…you’ll like it.

          • Joy S. Lee

            It would just be a shame for the Jultz story to end ugly. The fact that this is taking so long make me think that the Oilers are low balling because keeping him happy with a reasonable offer means nothing and grinding him to get the cheapest price possible means everything. Although his RFA status does not entitle him to the Oiler overpay every other d-man got it so what is one more? We have the cap space. He chose to come here and this entire city was ecstatic when he did. Hoping this was the start of a trend. I’m not saying go crazy and give him anything he wants but if managed right there is a lot of good will to be earned here which may keep a “potential” star in this city for years to come. Imagine that? I’m just hoping that Kblowes ego is not influencing the MacT negotiations because if it is this will probably end in the typical Oiler way. Another lost opportunity. And another win as the worst managed team.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            It’d difficult to have a discussion with Zarny. In his world he’s always right. [Zarny] quote: Schultz isn’t entitled to anything.

            He’s not entitled to the money affiliated to the points he puts up or the minutes he plays, end of story. Let only his mistakes be the basis of his new deal.

            I’m with you on Justin Schultz. He shouldn’t be at all affected by Zarny’s mob rules GM’ing.

          • JBear

            Those were UFA’s. You have to overpay UFA’s to come over to Edmonton. They may have overpaid a little, I’ll give you that but for now it fits into their cap plan. As for Schultz, he is a RFA so his options are limited. Schultz may have had the most ice time but he was far from impressive last year. Heck, I’d say Marincin out-performed him.

          • The Last Big Bear

            I didnt mean to imply that the Oilers are trying to strong-arm him into a one-year deal.

            I don’t know which side is pushing for what term. They likely both have several positions they’d be happy with.

            But if a 1 year deal is on the table, then trying to low-ball him just because he’s an RFA and they think they can get away with it is IS strong-arming him, and I think that’s a poor idea. If he wants 6 years, maybe hard-ball makes more sense, but not for a kid who’s going to be back in your office 9 months from now.

            Saying “We’ll give you less than you’re worth because you’re an RFA and have no leverage” is probably not a good way to deal with people you want to keep around long term. I don’t think it did the Habs any favors in their negotiations with Subban, O’Reilly’s relationship with Colorado is up in the air, and Johansen’s future in Columbus even THIS season is far from certain.

            I’m not saying whether one party or the other should be pushing for a bridge or for term.

            I’m saying that a one year deal at less than $3m, as suggested in the article, would be a slap in the face to Schultz.

          • Zarny

            Fair enough. I agree there is no need to pinch every penny on a young player the team sees as an important part of their core.

            And I agree Mtl and Col didn’t do themselves any favors with Subban and O’Reilly. Johansen is a tricky situation. I’d have the same concerns as CBJ right now, but I suspect they’ll get a deal done. Johansen won’t get the term he wants and Kekalainen will have to bend on the dollars.

            I don’t know if I’d characterize 1 yr @ $2.8M as a slap in the face but for the extra 200-300K to avoid any hurt feelings something around $3.1M ish wouldn’t surprise me.

            Meehan was pretty upfront in interviews that both sides acknowledge Schultz has work to do and are trying to determine his ceiling.

            And nothing I’ve heard from MacT would indicate to me the Oilers are trying to push or strong-arm for anything in particular. I the fact both sides are probably open to multiple scenarios is simply prolonging the process.

          • Subban speaks highly of the Habs management so if they slapped him in the face with the 2 year bridge at less the 3M per year he has a very short memory. If Subban was truly hurt by the bridge deal he would have taken the 1 year arbitration and cashed in next year.

            If one uses Subban as a salary comparable $2.875 for 2 years, 2 years ago might escalate to say $3M for 2 year today. But Schultz is not Subban so a contract starting with 2 does not seem out of line. If it is a one year deal the $ figure goes down, so 2.X is even more likely.

          • Zarny

            I’m not sure it’s that simple.

            Subban got paid and does seem to really enjoy playing in Mtl. No reason to be unhappy right now.

            However, a NMC is conspicuously absent from his new contract. Mtl can trade him at any time. That doesn’t exactly scream till death do us part.

        • Team don’t pay RFAs UFA money because to do otherwise might hurt their feelings.

          Schultz is almost certainly the one looking for short term here because the Oilers would happily give him 4M with term.

          Schultz wants to gamble that he will be worth much more after next year.

      • justDOit

        This. The Schultz camp doesn’t want a long term deal, because even they have to admit, they can’t rightfully expect better than a 5.0per average.

        But I’m surprised they’d be interested in just a one year deal. Doesn’t seem like much time to prove you are a star. How can they be so sure that he will up his value significantly in 80 games. If he can do it, great. But, chances are higher that he will get near 40p and be a minus player. I would be surprised if anyone’s opinion of Schultz changes much by April.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    meh. not a big fan of the way he plays defense (or tries to?), or his lack of physical play, but we apparently need his offense so if his agent doesn’t want a bridge contract, i wonder what we could get for him?

  • Spydyr

    The only thing has has proved to me at the NHL level is he is weak defensively and as Pat Quinn says “looked likes Barbara Ann Scott out there.”

    A one year deal works for me.

    • Serious Gord

      This makes no sense to me. The kid from Westbank never played for Pat Quinn.

      Quinn was probably talking about Tom Gilbert.

      How could you screw that up?

      • Spydyr

        Not sure if your comment is sarcasm or not but the only defenceman that has played for the Oilers the last decade that is softer than Gilbert is Shultz.

        I was sharing Quinn’s opinion.

          • Spydyr

            Ok I will try to explain it to you:

            My opinion on Shultz is a quote from Quinn:

            “looked likes Barbara Ann Scott out there.”

            That is what I feel about Shultz.I am well aware as anyone with half a brain should be Quinn never said that about Shultz but I bet if you asked him he would agree.

          • Pat Quinn tried playing JF Jacques on the first line. I truly believe that this disqualifies him from forming an accurate opinion on anything hockey related.

            On a side note, I hear the Canucks are going to retire Quinn’s jersey this year.

          • Scotty Bowman played Tomas Sandstrom on the 1st line with Steve Yzerman in the 1990’s….does that disqualify him from forming an opinion on anything hockey related as well?

            as a sidenote, how many packs of gum do you think Pat Quinn went through each game with the Oil?

          • The Soup Fascist

            Intentionally or not, the inference from your offering was that Quinn said it about Schultz.

            LLBL, quite reasonably questioned how that would be possible.

            I get that you are part of “all negative / all the time” format and given this team’s performance, that is understandable.

            But your statement in #11 is at best poorly worded and at worst disingenuous.

            And for the love of Gord, it is “Schultz” not “Shultz”. We finally got rid of the Gagne / Gagner debacle, let’s not start another.

            No matter how bad a defenseman you or I think he is, he deserves to have his name spelled correctly. Right Spid (oops) .. Spyde (oops) … Spydyr?

            P.S. Quinn sadly is an old man who the game passed years ago. I really don’t care what his thoughts are. I stopped caring the day he put JFJ on the Oilers first line opening night. It was a true “face palm moment”. Quinn’s ONLY contribution in his time here was the term “sucked the hind bananna”.

  • Guy Lafleur

    How can anyone even discuss Schultz in the same sentance as PK Subban ..Schultz couldnt hold PKs jock !!! I dont know what bargaining tools he thinks he has over the OIL ..take 900 Grrrr and thank your lucky stars they give you that much .This kid is the biggest flop since the rebuild started !!

  • Zarny

    It’s interesting that nobody seems to be paying attention to the fact that he held out on ANA for 2 years and jumped ship to the best possible option to showcase himself. Now that he’s here and that first contract is up, it’s interesting to see that he’s trying to get the best possible contract situation once more. Now, we all do that, but at what point do you point to the fact that in 3 contract discussions in a row, he’s willing to hit as hard as he can – all in favour of himself? I suspect he won’t retire an Oiler, let’s say that.

    • Well said, I put forth this same sentiment a few weeks back on this site and was met with immediate “trash heap”…..i suspect you will endure the same fate from us delusional Oiler fans.

  • Serious Gord

    Meehan’s group are getting quite a reputation for playing hard ball but I am wondering if it is driven by the best interests of their clients or a desire to run up the commissions they receive on the deals ( see Suban contract) .This could be a big risk for Schultz what happens if he gets inured?? Big contract gone and do you think Meehan and Company are going to pay his bills? Not going to happen. These Agents are not acting in these kids best interests .

    • Spoils

      Of course the agent is trying to get the most commission. That would mean he also got his client the most money.

      As for the risk of catastrophic injury– that is why the player purchases insurance. If it’s a long term deal the team purchases insurance on the contract. If it’s a short term deal the player purchases insurance.

  • Serious Gord

    Shultz, IMO, wants a $6M multi-year contract similar to what was given to Eberle, Hall and last year to an injuried RNH. MacT called Shultz out as a core player and core Oilers’ players get $6M multi-year contracts.

    Our management has built this bed, so we should not blame the employee for wanting consistent treatment.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        One might argue RNH’s and even Eberles deal could fall into that same category. Those both were deals made hoping the players would grow into, no?

        Management never put either of these two on the rack (torture). Their earnings may be locked in, but what they get for their dollars is still up in the air. Schultz must be a 2nd class player vs the 1st class types maybe. Justin Schultz only proves we all love to partake in these whipping boy sessions. 120 gms into his time here and he’s the new chosen one now that Sam’s gone.

        • Zarny

          Your assumption that a) Schultz is being put on the rack and b) Schultz must be a 2nd class player if he doesn’t get exactly what Nuge and Eberle did is silly.

          Fun facts – Nuge had 52 pt in 62 games his rookie season. Eberle put up 76 pt in 78 games in his 2nd season.

          Schultz hasn’t been that good. It’s that simple.

          I’m sure the Oilers would have no problem with a longer term deal Schultz could grow into. It simply won’t be @ $6M per season.

          That isn’t being put on the rack or being treated as a 2nd class player. It’s just reality.

          This isn’t tiddly winks, North Korea or kindergarten. Everyone doesn’t get the same.

          Welcome to life.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            6’ish was never in the picture to begin with. They may want to take notice of the last team (Ducks) that tried to squeeze Justin into that RFA vise though. He walked away from them when he found a way. Don’t understand the need to suddenly preach fiscal responsibility after the stupid deals (Nikitin) they’ve handed out this summer.

            Ah, there’s no sense us arguing about this when it’s the team/management group that gave Devan Dubnyk a 2 yr 7 million dollar deal calling the shots. Nothing is easy when absurdity is the norm.

      • I was not intending to imply the management was stupid, quite the opposite. The Management has a plan … sign highend young talent BEFORE the potential is reached to a long term contract, that will be good value in the back half of the contract (Eberle, Hall and RNH.

        Shultz is looking for equitability within the process the same way you our I would at our workplace.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Justin may have great offensive upside but they can’t lock into long term contracts with players who have not prooved they can defend at the NHL level. 2-3 year bridge at 2-3 million, let him proove himself.

    When you see a guy like Del Zotto almost fall by the wasteside because because he simply can’t pay huge coin.

    The only comparable I have seen this off season was Gardiner, but he had a bit more track record. If you offer a contract like that it is either brilliant two years from now or terrible.

    • sportsjunkie007

      Today’s tip: if a word is underlined after you have typed it, it’s misspelled. If you don’t know how it should be spelled, try Googling it. Google will normally offer the correct spelling as an option.

      Your spelling doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get your thoughts across, but it does hurt your credibility when you start with a series of visible errors.