Ship out Schultz? Why?


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 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.


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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    I don’t think any smart Oilers fans are itching to trade Schultz.
    I’m certainly not 🙂 Skill D are really, really rare. Schultz is incredibly young; his offensive game is already great; just needs to work on his defensive game. He’ll get better. He’s only been playing pro hockey for 2 years!

  • Most don’t WANT Schultz traded. They just point out that if Petry is considered tradable, Schultz should be too. He is more famous and would fetch a better return than Petry.

    To acquire a young 2C by trading a D, Schultz is a more realistic option. And the team with Klefbom replacing Schultz is much more competitive than with Arcobello/Lander/Draisaitl centering your second line.

  • camdog

    So one of the most high profile free agents in the last five years, decided to come to a team notable for not being able to land free agents, and the first thing we want to do is trade him away?

    I think you hit the nail on the head Gregor in that Schultz has come as billed, I can’t remember a single report that said defensive shut down stud comes to Edmonton. That’s not why he was sought after. It would be crazy to trade this kid. It would be nice to see that list of 29, maybe even push it out to 40 to see what company Schultz is in. Then maybe look at the more advanced stats for the guys on that list and see how Schultz compares defensively to the people he compares with offensively.

    Anyway, he’s not here to make 7 mill per year at 7 years and save our defence, he’s here to add an offensive element to the back end, and then hopefully shore up his defensive play through less minutes and easier competition.

    My only real question is who he gets paired with this year. My first instinct would be Nikitin as that leaves the Marincin Petry pair to continue to play as best as they can on the top line, and creates a much better shut down duo in Ference and Fayne, all while giving Schultz a more experienced partner who has some size and all around ability.

    But many pundits believe he’ll end up on the third line with Ferrence. This could work better as both would be asked to play less minutes than last year, but that would leave the unproven duo of Fayne and Nikitin. Not to mention, there’s also going to be Nurse and Klefbom pushing for spots which could screw everything up again.

    Who do you see him playing with?

  • Jordan1126

    Anybody whose statistical reference points would lead to dumping Schultz but praising Traded Six Times as some kind of saviour needs to take remedial math. ……
    Oiler fan is so mired in losing that they’ve re-imagined how hockey scores are kept, so that GF/GA aren’t the most important metric, but corgis and fencloses and tough opps and a bunch of made-up statistical fairy dust. Then carefully data-mined to show how 9 of the past 6 Stanley Cup winners or finalists were Corgi leaders.
    You stat-heads might have noticed that even the Oakland A’s have thrown in the towel and traded for two high-priced studs.
    Moneyball is dead and hockey Fap Stats are a fad, like Cooperalls.

  • Jason Gregor

    Quote from Gregor:

    “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.”


    Speaking of lumping, “Fans”….

    I hate when the media thinks the vocal minority, like these folks wanting to move a Schultz, are the opinion of the majority. Most fans give two craps about Corsi, Fenwick, etc. Hockey Nerds do. Stop putting the nerd’s opinions, the minority opinion, out there as the MAJORITY FANS opinion.

    First I’ve heard of wanting to move Schultz is this article? That says a lot. I listen to 1260 every day. Lumping. Media does it all the time….

    • Jason Gregor

      I guess you didn’t read the very next line in the article….

      “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.”

      But since you didn’t comprehend that statement, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you resort to calling people nerds because they use numbers. Smart.

      • Many is better than most, but it’s still a generalization that lacks merit. Lowetide has an article today about Schultz and I think you would be considering him to be a Petry loving, Corsi loving fan. But he wants Schultz to stay. So do most others who consider that analysis as useful as “saw him good.” So to pretend like you have not made a generalization is all semantics, and from my vantage point you have not provided any evidence that “many” such individuals want Schultz gone. If you are going to make a claim like that, giving examples is the way to avoid making generalizations, and is the irony of the entire article. This is exactly how rumors are started about people wanting a player out of town.

        What’s fair to say based on the articles and comments I’ve read recently is that many don’t want Mact offering loads of money to this guy after the performance in 122 games, which will be overvaluing his past play, and will alienate players like petry who should not be perceived as inferior to Schultz at this stage. It’s also fair to say that many don’t want to see Schultz considered a core part of this team based on his uneven performance over the first 2 seasons, but at the same time recognize his potential and realize that Dmen take longer to develop and it’s not always a straight line with the development process. This was I think the message you are trying to convey as well it just came off as a bit hypocritical.

        Let me end by saying that Schultz has been like found money, we shouldn’t have gotten him in the first place and I hope he is a top 4 d man at evens and recovers his pp production from his rookie season. At the same time I find your comment about his offensive production as being elite interesting, and am curious if Marc Andre Bergeron would have ever cracked top 30 nhl dman scoring…

  • Serious Gord

    I don’t see a massive campaign to trade Schultz anywhere. But Gregor I ask you, why do so many fans, pundits, and Oilers hockey staff talk about Schultz like he is a pillar of some kind of future dynasty?

    I fully agree that Yak is more expendable, but I would entertain offers for either if the return addressed a glaring need.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    Not a Schultz hater, but I don’t think it’s a case of fans running Schultz out of town AT ALL. It’s really a case of perceived value vs. reality. Schultz is the Oilers most productive offensive d-man according to the stat sheet and looks to be well on his way to becoming a PP specialist, but that doesn’t make him a true top 4. Last year, the Oilers dressed a grand total of one legit top 4 d-man – Petry – and he buckled under the workload. Schultz, on the other hand, plays easier minutes and gives up more than he gets. BUT, his 30-something points are more impressive looking than Petry’s 18 or whatever, so he has a higher perceived value. It’s like Hall vs. Eberle. I like both players a tongue, but you couldn’t convince me that Eberle was a more essential part of the puzzle than Hall. Amazingly, there are still people who would disagree and maybe even people around the league. That’s why, hypothetically, Eberle is a better option for a trade. Would I trade him? No, but he would be a less painful loss than Hall. I think that’s what the talk of Schultz has mostly been. He puts up points, but he needs MAJOR support in the defensive zone and his value would be higher than a guy like Petry, who has a falsely manufactured low value.

    • Zarny

      Schultz looks to be on his way to becoming a PP specialist?

      Really? Because over the last two seasons he ranks 6th among D for even strength goals. Of his 33 PT last year only 13 were on the PP.

      Sorry, but that isn’t becoming a PP specialist. That’s simply a young D with only 122 games experience and holes in his defensive game putting up very good offensive numbers that border on elite in all situations.

      • 2004Z06

        Over 1/3 of your offensive production is no small amount and maybe he’s not a PP specialist as much as we hoped he could be – he certainly should take a piece of the blame for the ineptitude of the PP last season – so you’re probably right in that regard. Schultz has some nice stats in the points department, but 5V5 he gives much more than he gets. One hopes that improves over time and I believe it can with some properly sheltered minutes and a reliable partner. That said, as things stand now he is not a top 4 quality defender and I fully expect all of Klefbom, Marincin and Nurse to pass him by over the next few years. It’s all hypothetical, but if you HAVE to trade a D-man (and I need to stress that the Oilers do not), there’s a greater likelihood you could get more for Schultz than you could for Petry, despite the fact that Petry, despite his warts, is probably the all around better D-man.

  • Jordan1126

    When Duncan Keith was an up and coming Dman, he had Brian Campbell playing ahead of him. Duncan Keith had the luxury of growing into a top pairing Dman and then some and he did it very quickly. When you’re being force-fed before you’re ready, it gets messy.

  • Serious Gord


    Please cite your evidence for making this statement: “However, I’ll admit I’m surprised by how many people want to ship Justin Schultz out of town.”

    To my eyes and ears I have witnessed very little evidence of people wanting him shipped out of town.

    You “hate generalizations”.

    I despise strawman arguments – especially if they eminate from someone in the media.

  • Great article! You nailed it. I have a great feeling about the direction we are heading and Shultz is a big part of the future. A hundred and a few games into what was a giant learning curve and he is trending beautifully. Term and contract are the only discussions we all should be having.

  • Serious Gord

    Very hard to evaluate players on the Oilers since they have been the worst team in the NHL for the last 8 years. Hard for the fans and hard for management.

  • Serious Gord

    We have to keep in mind that a lot of these folks who want to trade every body and chase the rest out of town are “NEW” Oiler fans who have moved her from the east .They are so used to running everyone out of town in Toronto and Montreal That it is just how they where brought up as fans they cant help it . .Just ignore them because you don’t have to scratch to too deep to find a Leafs or Hab’s fan.

  • Jordan1126

    I always look at it from the other guys view…

    If schultz was available via trade would oiler fans be interested?

    damn rights they would! (although all they would offer are the rights to omark)

  • I have nothing against any of the D here, but I still have to wonder who can eat up high minutes here and look good doing it. The team would be better served if Petry didn’t have to play the hard minutes all the time. Maybe Fayne helps carry that burden, I don’t know. But none of the D really seem to stand out here above anyone else (at least in the top 4). That’s somewhat of a good and bad thing. Would be nice to have a minute eating D man here. It also would be nice to have a 2nd line C. Hard to fix both just by moving Petry or Schultz.

    Some patience should fix both issues, but it will be another tough season probably if they don’t change anything, unless some guys have some pretty big years.

  • 2004Z06

    Simply a lack of experience, inept D coaching and absence of veteran leadership. He will get better defensively. My gosh he has less than two seasons at the NHL level.

    People gripe that we moved out young assets that went on to succeed elsewhere (Stoll, Greene etc.) yet here we go again!

  • Simpsonite

    We gotta pick somebody to work over I guess now that our whipping boy gags is gone. We rode horcoff pretty hard for not a super good reason and then gags and now we have to pick somebody. Personally I would have picked Lowe but I guess his skating ability has probably diminished to much over the years to get much for him in a trade…gotta keep Shultz…he is way better and will get way better.

    I’m going to Blue Jays this season for the Oil…last year, for both, HUGE expectations and they were dashed remarkably early for both…maybe cause of the pressure…never know if that had an effect on a young oilers team or not. With the Blue Jays this year expectations were very low and seemingly so was the pressure and they have exceeded…shockingly it seems…so I am doing that for the Oil…no more hope for a playoff spot…no pressure on them…I am expecting chaos and tears by mid November…if the strategy plays out similar to the Blue Jays they shall be in good shape by all star break.

    Wait…did I just put reverse pressure? Did I just ruin this whole thing? Oh geez.

  • Big K

    Mac T will sign him, He’s smart enough to continuosly mention him as part of the core group. He’s doing what he should, be half smart with the money he has right now!

    Fans that call for heads before they should are the fans who dont understand the game.

    Its really nice to live in Candy land,ride your unicorn to work drinking its mountain Dew urination.

    The fact still remains, alot of damage was done and its going to take time to repair. I for one, am impressed with the short order in which Mact has made us a line up that has a chance, a fighting chance i might add!!

    • wiseguy

      You contradict yourself. So when should fans call for heads? When it has been decreed from a higher power? The “lot of damage was done” I assume refers to the Tambellini era (epoch) of management. Would less damage have been done if fans had called for his head sooner? But those same people who did call for his head sooner and may have saved us from all his “damage”, according to you, are fans who don’t understand the game.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Players who have the puck on their stick a lot will be prone to make mistakes, kinda like PK he really coughs up the puck a lot..I bet just about everyone on here would be happy to have PK and his mistakes.. ..its just part of the game. It is very difficult to find offence from the point..

    We NEED to keep Shultz and am confident MacT will get a deal done. Mistakes are way more noticeable on D and with the right partner he should be able to thrive. I believe he is in for big year and would support signing him to a long term deal..He should however start practicing that one timer slap shot from the point ala PK Subban…

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Schultz can’t handle ES minutes against most any competition. His impressive ES goal total is more than overturned by the amount of ES goals he aids in allowing when he’s on the ice. He’s proven to be nothing more than MA Bergeron, but he has value on the market. That’s why people would trade him over Petry. They could replace his offence by signing DelZotto to a

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    I fully agree with your statements. The problem is that the fan base is becoming increasingly impatient and negative.

    As an example, MacT has made significant headway in remolding the Oilers during his 15 month tenure and yet people always seem to expect more. They expect magical trades and immediate solutions. The other GMs in the league are not incompetent. For this reason, trades must consist of value for value. They are not usually low hanging fruit.

    I hope that MacT stays the course. If he does, we have a very good chance of seeing entertaining and winning hockey before very long. Maybe even contending for the Cup.