WHAT TO DO ABOUT JUSTIN SCHULTZ?

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Justin Schultz has been an NHL player for over 200 games and I don’t think he’s better now than he was on opening night 2012-13. At 24, we can probably assume he’ll never win a Norris (seriously — no Norris for Schultz) but the bigger question is this: Can Justin Schultz help an NHL team win?

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Justin Schultz as an AHL player was a record breaker and an award winner. As he entered the NHL, there was much anticipation about his ability to create offense. Ralph Krueger talked about his defense as being a strength too—those were heady days—but three years into his career we seem to have him surrounded as a player.

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This is Schultz over his three Oilers seasons. This year, he’s been handled in a different manner (more inviting zone starts, easier opponents) and his possession numbers spiked in a good way.

What does that tell us? Well, despite appearances, there were some good things happening on the ice with Schultz. The results (5×5 and 5×4/60) weren’t enough but this is probably the best spot to have him in. I can’t honestly say the Oilers have mishandled him in terms of deployment this year—he should be getting good ZS’s and should be the go-to defender in the offensive zone.

His 5×5/60 (0.80) ranks Schultz No. 73 in the NHL in this category, tied with Morgan Reilly, Christian Ehrhoff and Matt Dumba. He’s in a range with offensive defensemen but isn’t impacting these easy minutes like Mike Green in Washington (1.41/60 at 5×5).

The power play number ranks him No. 52 among defenders with 100 or more 5×4 minutes and No. 20 among those with 200 or more minutes (23 players qualify).

I think it’s reasonable to suggest Edmonton is using Schultz wisely (or did this season) but the offensive results are merely fair and the defensive results are (despite the possession stats) not good enough by plenty. 

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TIME ON ICE

I think the Oilers use Schultz too much, especially at even strength. Here are his numbers by year, including category:

  • 2012-13: 21:26 TOTAL (17:39EV; 3:12PP; 0:34PK)
  • 2013-14: 23:20 TOTAL (18:55EV; 3:26PP; 0:58PK)
  • 2014-15: 22:36 TOTAL (19:26EV; 2:49PP; 0:20PK)

I think that’s the problem right there. The Oilers use Schultz too much, and would be far better off moving him down the depth chart (third pair at EVs) and shaving three or more 5×5 minutes off those totals. They hired Mark Fayne to play for them, paid him good money, and then played Fayne only 15:14 at even strength.

I’m no expert but can say winning teams rarely put young players into positions that cause them to fail without changing course when the failure is clear. The Edmonton Oilers, a curious team for certain, appear to believe if they keep hammering Schultz into the breach a different result will occur.

They may want to look at that over the summer. I agree with their current deployment of the player but would think fewer minutes per game would help all involved.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    I didnt read the article, but the obvious answer to your question is GET RID OF HIM. Every second we spend with this clown on the team is another second were not spending on finding another defenseman. Thats after you fire Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish of course.

  • Beaumatters

    Against San Jose, the Oilers defence had 2 guys who have played most the season in the AHL, 2 guys who have spent quite a bit of time in the AHL and 1 guy who has bounced from the AHL, press box, NHL and Schultz. He was the worst of the lot..and not by just a bit. Make a hockey trade (not a draft pick trade) and cut this guy loose…my two cents…

  • nuge2drai

    The Oilers will not improve as a team until they trade away or demote Justin.

    He is not a good defenseman. Too much of a liability and he costs the Oilers way too many games.

    We legitimately lose half our games because of him.

  • Ar_C

    Katz should have hired Brian Burke when he had the chance. Burke has a proven model that works everywhere he’s been, Fast, very physical teams. The Lowe/Mact model? Not necessarily physical, not necessarily fast but great shot blockers, great in the dressing room

  • Zarny

    The play that showed me what kind of defense men justin is was when kboom through the puck around the back of the net. and justin when’t behind his own net to get it. and it hit his stick and bounced right out in fount of his own net to a wide open opposing player and he put it in.i forget what game that was i think it was the ducks game .

  • Zarny

    I don’t agree with walking away from Schultz. He skates and does too many things well. He needs to learn to take less risk, play with more intensity and eliminate the catastrophic brain farts.

    My understanding is to retain compensation rights the Oilers have to give Schultz a qualifying offer @ 100% his current contract – $3.675M.

    I believe retaining compensation rights is the Oilers dilemma. If the Oilers don’t qualify Schultz before going to arbitration the arbitrator only has to award a minimum of 85% of the current contract – $3.12M.

    The caveat is that the Oilers lose the right to match and be compensated if Schultz signs an offer sheet. I think the risk of that happening is low and I think the Oilers have a good case to get an award below $3.675M.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      The problem with the Oilers is that we are not just talking about keeping 1 problem child. We have 3 absolutely horrendous beyond belief d men. With Nikitin, Ference, and Schultz all belonging in the AHL we have a problem. This team without a doubt needs to rid itself of 2 out of these 3 players asap. So if its decided to keep Schultz? Fine.. then give him 3rd pair minutes and lose Ference and Nikitin. No matter what if Schultz is signed to $4 million + then MacT is a complete moron. Not sure we need any more proof. But if giving Schultz all the primo ice this year and watching him cluster f$#%k it up practically nightly isnt enough viewings for MacT then we are screwed.

  • Nomad787

    Problem with the Oilers Defence?

    #1. Nikita Nikitin
    #2. Andrew Ference
    #3. Justin Schultz.

    It’s very simple 2 out of these 3 cannot be on the team next year. The one you decide to keep is nailed to 3rd pairing minutes. Next find 2x 2nd pairing D veterans. Keep Marincin, Klefbom, And Fayne. And you have a serviceable defense. Not playoff caliber likely but just maybe a lot more competitive then whats there now.

    I don’t see any mystery in realizing that having 3 below NHL level D in Nikitin, Ference, and Schultz taking up 3 of the 6 D spots is anything but detrimental to the teams chances of winning. Not to mention a terrible example for the younger D to learn from. At least 2 of these 3 buffoons need to be replaced or Oilers will be a Lotto team once again 1 year from now.

  • Andy7190

    If the management doesn’t change, Schultz won’t change either.

    If the management changes to a group that brings in legitimate top 3 D men, Schultz could be useful.

    They may need to trade a member of the core to do this, and this current Lowe-MacT glory days group won’t do it.

  • Nomad787

    I believe that Justin Schultz should be transitioned to becoming a Assistant GM for the Oilers.

    “Visually he looks better”, than an aging Mac T and both of them have nice hair. Besides a comprehenisve understanding of the game, both of them are solid at something………not sure what yet?

    Jack Adams and Norris together……..it’s a beautiful sight.

  • Nomad787

    Thanks for bringing up the Schultz Norris candidate quote, no one has brought that up before. Give Schultz a break. In his short career he has been on the worst d core in the league and has had no sheltering nor good veteran leadership. Giving up on Schultz now makes no sense.

  • Phuryous George

    I’m late to the convo, and haven’t read all the comments so apologies if this is redundant.

    At the risk of being the most unpopular man on the Internet 2015, I think it is crazy to trade or lose J Shultz. I am in no way a fan of his play so far, but this kid has been a winner at every level he’s played at. Future Norris Trophy kind of winning. It’s why everyone wanted him. He obviously hasn’t had the success he wanted here, but neither have the Young Guns he thought he was coming to play with. I think his past success has come “easily” to him, in that his natural talent has played a bigger part in his success than his hard work. Now he must battle past a tougher spot than he has ever been in, and doesn’t have the tools and past experience to achieve that.

    He should be played In a diminished role, not on the first pairing, regardless of his contract. That requires brining in dean that can shut down top pairs, and let Shultz get out for offensive draws and as a power play shot, which is what he is, and what we were getting when he came here, not a shutdown man. Then maybe we can get the guy who decided to come play here instead of anywhere else. For all the talk of “Jultzing”, Oilers management has not handled this guy correctly at all.

    The Norris comment is touché in cheek, relax. But there is an offence specialist on the back end there. He needs to dig deep and battle back next year, and the team needs to use him properly. Really , there are bigger issues at the blue line.

    Edit- eff you autocorrect, I know what I am typing!!,!

    • hitchikerforajax

      How can players who play for the Oilers, struggle in Edmonton & then go the other NHL teams & excell? Almost without exception, players, seem to find they groove, when they move out of Edmonton. Just maybe, if Katz really wanted to win, he fires the man, who has been “leading” this team. That of course is his buddy Kevin Lowe. Why can other NHL teams, who rebuild their teams & actully get better, while the Oilers’ rebuild, has lasted 7-8 yrs. & arguely got worse? Hey Katz, it’s the guy at the top. Lowe has had, God awful trades & #1 picks & have got worse. The fans have been patient & until they, start hurting Katz in the pocket book, stop going to games, then he might really starting a rebuild by getting rid of all the management,

      • Phuryous George

        I’m not sure if you replied to me by mistake, or if you are disagreeing with me or agreeing with me or what. I don’t see the connection to my post.

        But, Since I like to wax on the Oil anyway….

        The way I see it, a lot of players that have gone on to be successful with other teams has a lot to do with how they are used on a consistent basis on the ice. So many players have been asked to play roles above their abilities here for so long, as there is a real lack of veteran leadership and guys are rushed beyond their development. Management asks a lot of their draft picks.

        For example, Andrew Cogliano. As a very young nhl’r, he would have 2 or 3 good nights on the 2nd or 3rd line, pot a couple goals and add a couple apples, and BAM! Let’s put him on the first line, guys!!!!! The only reason he had any success was playing on a lower line where he had a chance to beat his match ups, not against other teams top lines. Then it’s ” well, we gave you a chance but you didn’t capitlize on your opportunities so we are taking some minutes away from you and putting you back on the third line so we can do this all again next month.” So then he goes to Anaheim, and has great success on the 3rd line every night. Also on the PP and PK.

        Same as Perty. How many times was it said here that he is not a #1 Damon on any other team. And he’s not, he was just the best we had. Now he’ll be given a reasonable role on MTL and he’ll do very well, cause he’ll understand it and he’ ll meet expectations.

        Just like Brodziak.

        Forget about Schremp and Omark. Really!!!

        The Oilers do a great job of taking young men and subjecting them to trial by fire in the nhl and shipping off the quasi developed product to another team to become perfectly serviable nhl’r said so they can develop the next batch of draft picks and AHL players. It would be interesting to see how the movement of former Oilers thru the NHL compares to other teams. And I mean NHL players, not picked off the farm.

        and if you think anybody but Ryan Smyth ( God bless ’em ) is coming back here once they are gone and see how things can be elsewhere, think about how you feel when it’s time to go back in the pool after being in the hot tub.

  • Andy7190

    Chara is getting old and injuries are becoming more of an issue. I wonder if Boston might let him go to make cap space. He could give us a couple years of mentorship to the young d. Klefbom marincin and nurse could soak up a lot from him. I would try a package that includes shultz and maybe the pittsburg pick this year or 1st pick next year +. Also would he allow the trade to happen.

    • Andy7190

      Good in theory, but no way Chara waives his NMC to come here. Would you?

      Because of Reilly I don’t see TO wanting him, but they might want to get out of Phaneufs contract badly enough that you could do something there, even though I can’t stand Neon Dionne.

      Moving Schultz for anything remotely valuable would be addition by subtraction