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.

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.”

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:

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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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

      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

      • 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?

      • 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.

    • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.