Justin Schultz Signs One-Year Deal

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The Edmonton Oilers and Justin Schultz have managed to avoid arbitration, with the two parties agreeing to a one-year deal on Wednesday. 

This is not a surprising development. Despite the Oilers’ decision to elect for arbitration, there was no discernible benefit for the team in going through the process if it could be avoided. Schultz was guaranteed equivalent or superior money to the $3.675 million he made in 2014-15 and so there was no real upside to engaging in an adversarial arbitration hearing when the money was going to be within a very small window anyway. 

$3.9 million represents an overpay for Schultz, but it was not an overpay of Peter Chiarelli’s making. When then-general manager Craig MacTavish offered Schultz a one-year contract last summer, he guaranteed that this year’s contract decision was going to be ugly. 

Here’s what we wrote at the time

If Schultz has a poor year, Edmonton will have to decide between qualifying him at an ugly number based on his $3.675 million contract and letting him go for nothing (there is a third, rarely-used option – club-elected arbitration in the hopes of knocking back his salary). In other words, Schultz is guaranteed the choice of significant money or free agency even if he has a garbage year; that’s a nice place to be.

That’s the situation Chiarelli found himself in this summer. Schultz was going to get paid because of the decisions MacTavish made last summer and so he was.

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The upside is that this deal now opens up a second buyout window for the Oilers. From article 13 of the NHL Standard Player Contract: 

For Clubs who have Club or Player elected Salary Arbitration filings pursuant to Article 12, within the forty-eight (48) hour period beginning on the third day following the later of: (i) the Club’s receipt of its last salary arbitration award; or (ii) settlement of its last case (provided such award was received or such settlement occurred prior to 7:00 p.m. New York time; awards or settlements that occurred or were received at or after 7:00 p.m. New York time will be deemed to have occurred or received the following business day for purposes of this provision).

Had the Oilers elected for clawback arbitration with Schultz, they would not have opened up a second buyout window, but because of the mechanism they chose this window will open for 48 hours starting on Saturday (Full details here).

That’s another possible benefit to getting Schultz’s contract settled early – it means the Oilers will head into their buyout window while some significant free agents are still out there, potentially affording them the option of adding one or more of those players with the cleared cap space. 

This deal may not look so bad next year if Schultz can be a useful member of a productive power play. New head coach Todd McLellan has a track record of making the man advantage work and Schultz is likely to be his best blue line option. It’s still paying for potential, and thus it’s still a bad contract, but there should certainly be room for Schultz to grow after a disastrous 2014-15. 

Still, this deal would seem to be less about Schultz and more about the need to clear out some bodies. Nikita Nikitin is the obvious candidate for a buyout, but he isn’t the only one. Andrew Ference is certainly worth considering and some would argue that Teddy Purcell should be in the conversation as well. As far as I can tell from reading the CBA (as always I am not a lawyer) the Oilers can buyout more than one player, but are limited to three buyouts outside the regular period over the life of the CBA. 

It’s going to be an interesting weekend in Edmonton. 

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  • Hey, remember when the Oilers signed Sam Gagner to a couple of short term deals once his entry-level contract expired because they weren’t sure that he was ever going to be the player they’d hoped, then he had a career season by scoring a ton on the power play and went into that summer with tons of leverage because he was one year away from becoming a UFA at 25 and arbitration eligible? And instead of trading him when his value was high MacT blinked and signed him to a rich three year deal?

    All I’m saying is that I really hope that if Jultz has 20 power play points by midseason and Chiarelli sells high on him, nobody complains too much. I think that’s the ideal outcome of this contract. If they really thought Schultz was the answer they’d be announcing four years and $20 million right now.

  • TKB2677

    This isn’t me trying to defend Schultz because I have been very disappointed with him. His defensive play is a train wreck and he’s SOOO soft.

    But in looking at his stats, he’s played a grant total of 203 games, so basically 2.5 seasons. Yakupov, who has been in my opinion equally as disappointing, has played 192 games. There are many, many people who are saying the Oilers need to be patient with Yakupov yet are ready to dump Schultz.

    So if Schultz was the same age as Yakupov, would many of us be preaching patience for him but because he’s older, we aren’t? Playing NHL defense a lot harder than wing so to be fair, shouldn’t we be giving Schultz a chance as well given both him and Yak have basically the same experience?

    • A-Mc

      Fun Fact: Over the last 2 years, Jultz has contributed more offensively (as a defenseman) and has had a significantly better +- than Yakupov.

      Jultz: 64pts, -39

      Yakupov: 57pts, -68

      Draw your own conclusions!

      • Mik

        Keep in mind some other items:
        1) Schultz is making over 50% more/year than Yak
        2) Schultz has been given every opportunity to succeed, along with a ton of PP time, while Yak was Eakins’ whipping boy
        3) Yak actually tries, Schultz not so much
        4) Yak is 4 years younger than Schultz and there is something to be said about that

        Also, if you look at career stats (they both started at the same time) you’ll see that they’re not so far apart stats wise:
        Yak: 192 games; 88 pts; -72
        Schultz: 203 games; 91 pts; -56

        Honestly, I hope both players turn out to be studs and I’m not the one paying them anyway but, it sucks that Schultz’s contact impacts the cap as much as it does. Hopefully, Chia will buyout one of the 3 (Capt, NN, Purc) and sign a decent d-man.

        • I am really hoping Schultz turns it around this year.

          Another Yak vs Jultz point is that Yak seemed to put in the effort. Jultz looked totally apathetic at times.

          I hope that was just a result of getting buried with expectations and responsibility. If both of these reduce it will put him in a better position to learn and apply himself.

    • bazmagoo

      Great point and a nice spin. Where I think the issue comes in for fans is how the two assets have been managed, or I guess mismanaged. Where as Schultz has been gifted every single opportunity to succeed, where as Yak has been given nothing, and expected to succeed. Schultz is doing nothing with everything, and Yak has been trying to do anything with nothing.

      Second, while management has ardently defended Schultz again and again and again, all Yak has seen is the bottom of the bus tires. Moreover, Schultz is getting payed like he’s playing amazing, Yak is getting payed like he has something to prove.

    • El Pindo

      Yak is making 2.5 this year, Schultz will make 3.9, I think that’s everyone’s major issue with him, same issue we had with Horcoff, now Nikitin and Ference, it’s just about players not living up to the contracts being thrown at them (and at the end of the day that’s not entirely their fault)

      • TKB2677

        How does age matter?

        If you owned a welding company that welds pipe. If you hire 2 welders fresh out of school. Both of which have never welded professionally before or welded pipe. One welder is 21, the other is 25. You expect the 25 yr old welder to be better just because he’s older? They are both NHL players with 2.5 years of NHL experience. What difference does their age make? They both never played in the NHL before and have the same experience today. Plus Schultz, plays the harder position. Playing wing is the easiest position to play in the NHL. Plus Yak is a #1 overall pick so if anything, Yak is by far the bigger disappointment.

          • It sounded like he was serious, and he had a partial point, but there is a flaw in the argument.

            Schultz was not a “welder” “fresh out of school”. He played college hockey. So, in a sense, it’s more along the lines of a welder apprenticing an extra 2-3 years……..and what happens with extra apprenticing you ask? Well, the good ones would hone and improve their skill sets.

            Schultz has been a disappointment thus far, but only because someone set the expectations sky high. However, he is ONLY 25. He is young. Let’s give this another year with a real mgt and coaching regime.

    • Kevwan

      Agree. Lead all Oiler D in points and TOI by a significant margin. I doubt that an arbitrator gives him less.

      I expect with proper usage and good coaching that Schultz improves dramatically. No more excuses – it’s up to him now. If he fails there’s no long term commitment.

  • TKB2677

    He didn’t deserve a raise, if anything a reduction was in order. However, that rarely happens with young guys and the raise is like 6% so that is pretty tiny for NHL standards. At least it’s for 1 yr. The message to me from the Oilers says to Schultz, we recognize you played a tone, so here is a very tiny raise but if you want more money and longer term, you better pick up your play big time.

  • hagar

    I guess it was a deal for a roster filler this year until the flood gates open next year?

    The money is annoying, but less annoying than a 6 year term Mact would have signed him to.

    I guess we should all start cheering for the guy… if he turns it around this year, it’s probably best that we look like good supporting fans for next year’s deal. Ha

    • bradleypi

      No need to jump on his bandwagon. I’m taking up all the room. As I’m the only one that actually seemed to watch him play and haven’t been blaming him solely for the oilers woes. Lol and good luck looking like good supporting fans. We all know that’s a stretch. As soon as his line is scored on I guarantee oilersnation will erupt with the blame game on jultz