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. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Jason Gregor

    Like I wrote last night, going to arbitration with Schultz was more about securing a deal with him than guaranteeing a buyout. I expect he will have a better season. He will be used less, which will help him, and I think the light finally went on in his head that he needs to be stronger.

    His agent was asking for more. Yes, it is surprising considering the season he had, but he did play the most minutes of any Oilers defender and they were using that in their favour.

    I will be surprised if the buyout Nikitin. Having dead cap space next year isn’t ideal, and there is a chance he can be better than last year. Worst case scenario is they bury him in the minors. Best case is he plays okay and a team suffers an injury or two on the blueline and acquire him in a deal.

    • ThinkingOutLoud

      Would you buyout Ference? How much uld it save to put N in the minors.If it costs you cap space next year too but you could sign franson to a similar contract as AS would you then buyot NN> What would you have to do to get Arizona to eat part r all of the NN or AF contract.

      • Jason Gregor

        No, I wouldn’t. He’d be dead cap space for three years after this year. I know it would only be $1.1 million, but Oilers plan to be competitive then and wasting cap space won’t help them.

        If they put Nikitin in the minors he would be a $3.55 cap hit ($950,000 of his $4.5 won’t count).

        Ference won’t waive NMC to go to Ari. You’d have to eat 50% of Niktin for any team to take him right now. Oilers likely hoping he comes to camp plays well, or if he struggles go to minors and regain confidence.

        I think Chiarelli will look at other options on NN, rather than a buyout.

        • Yes. agreed 100%…don’t buyout NN….bury him if needed. Cap space is not required this year. $1.1 mil in cap space could be the difference between getting Seabrook, or not….it’s better to have the cap space moving forward

        • BubbaZanetti

          I fail to see why they would have taken the arbitration route if the plan was NOT to buy someone out. It seems logical that this was done for the sole reason of getting that buyout window, otherwise, rather a waste of time for all concerned.

        • Kevwan

          Gregor has a point.

          If the Oilers buy Nikitin out it’s to grab a “Value” contract UFA. Let’s say they signed Chris Stewart to the 1.7 mil/yr contract he got and bought out Nikitin.
          The actual cost would be 7.9 mil over 2 years and a cap hit of 3.2 mil/yr over 2 years. Hardly a bargain.

          The buyout cost in cap hit mitigates the value in those potential value contracts.

    • bazmagoo

      For me it would depend on whether Nikitin actually came to camp last season out of shape like MacT said. If he did I think a buyout would be a good message to send to the roster. If MacT was just trying to protect the player from media scrutiny, then give him another chance. Best case scenario is we get a 5th round pick for the guy at the deadline, not worth the risk of coming into camp out of shape again in my opinion.

      • Wouldn’t an even better message be to send NN to the minors? What NHLer with a shred of pride would want that……if he is out of shape, can’t keep up, makes mistakes, send him down. If another GM picks him up, so be it…

        A buyout just gives NN a free paycheque while he sits at home and eats cheesies

        • bazmagoo

          Fair point. But a buyout would send a message to the team that if you come into our roster out of shape & unable to battle for your team mates – you aren’t wanted. Here’s $3 million to buy your ticket to the KHL.

  • A-Mc

    Schultz has scored 33 and 31 points over the last 2 seasons. For a defenseman, that is worth something. In 2013-14 he was ranked #39 in Points among defensemen, and last year he was ranked #50.

    If the team can get their Sh!t together, and if Schultz can rightfully play further down the depth chart than where he has been, there is a small chance that Schultz can reclaim his value and be a contributing member to the roster @ his current price tag.

    #OffSeasonOptimism

    • El Pindo

      With his current deployment his defensive holes are not being outweighed by the offense he puts up, but you are right in saying if he gets pushed down the depth chart his shortcomings will be alot easier to accept

  • bradleypi

    I don’t get how leading your teams defence in almost every statistical category equates to a disastrous season? Imo this is a steal of a deal for a top pairing dman who is yet to turn 25. Especially considering the weakest link on the oilers d last year was given 5.5mill to play 2nd/3rd pairing minutes. Schultz is part of the core whether oilersnation likes it or not. You will see with a new coaching staff that Schultz is a very competent defender. He’s not physical but he’s got a good stick and great hockey sense. If the the oilers forwards weren’t out of position so much because of the swarming defence Schultz and the rest of the d wouldn’t have looked so bad the last 2 years. Oilersnation needs to remember hockey is a team game and singling out Schultz for bad play when the whole team was bad is a major cop out

    • This “Petry is getting $5.5M to play 3rd line minutes” nonsense has got to end.

      He was clearly Montreal’s #3 defenseman in the playoffs and played well, playing over 22 minutes per game.

      The idea that he was Edmonton’s “weakest link” may literally be the dumbest idea ever expressed on this site.

      • YFC Prez

        I like Petry a lot. I think he’s a very good player, and he was terrific in the playoffs. I would like to still have him on the Oilers.

        However, and I only bring it up because we’re talking about contracts and it’s been on my mind, but considering how free agency has gone this off season, well, I really wonder if Montreal might like a mulligan on that contract.

        Given the contracts signed by a number of players and considering how free agency dollars have dried up for some pretty comparable players, I really question whether or not Petry would have gotten the kind of cash he did from Montreal as a free agent on July 1.

          • Oilfan69

            Sekera, for one. Exact same contract, more teams bidding for his services, better track record as a top pairing defenseman.

            Franson and Ehrhoff not having deals at all yet, obviously. Paul Martin and Oduya both got less dollars and less term; both are older, obviously, but play fairly similar styles.

            But really, aside from Sekera, no free agent got the kind of contract Petry did. Green got more money, but less term. Saad got more money and the same term but is a completely different player in a totally different situation. Dougie Hamilton is a much younger player in a different situation, and is probably a better player than Petry is already, or if he isn’t he will be shortly, and he only got a quarter million more per year.

            Almost nobody got the kind of deal Petry got from Montreal. He probably got, what, an extra year and a million more per season because of his work in the playoffs which, while great, was a pretty small sample. If he stayed in Edmonton and walked he’d have gotten a whole lot less.

            Like I said, I like Petry, and I’m not even saying he isn’t worth the deal he got. But if Montreal were doing it over again…

      • bradleypi

        So you don’t agree with me that the Oilers played a lot better after thd trade deadline? I thought the defence really tightened up and was playing well after petry was traded. If scrivens could have stopped a beach ball they woulda won a few more games. But maybe I was watching a different oilers team than you?

    • Mik

      He is not part of the core, the contract today says that.

      Will a coach change the grenades he throws up the ice, or make him be able to take his man? The guy can contributes to chances on both sides. He is not even average as defender, he is probably in the bottom 5 percentile. I believe the retention of his services is that Chia has a history of having PP specialists, and hopefully his ice time will be sheltered to the third pairing at 17 mins a night. His offence comes at the expense of his defensive lapses and poor judgement.

      would of been happy today if they walked away and signed Erhoff for 4.5 mil x 3.

      • bradleypi

        Lol. “Grenades” up the ice??? Hes clearly thd best passer/playmaker this defence has seen in about 9 years. Quit over exaggerating things to try to make a point. And ya I’m sure a new coach and staff will probably help him with his positioning in zone defences and which guy to take when it’s man on man. After all that’s what coaches do…. it’s called coaching which is something that Eakins did not do. Lol and meet me back here in October when Schultz is on the top pairing with sekaras. A 4 million dollar 3rd pairing dman. Lol get a grip

        • YFC Prez

          I really hope Schultz turns out like you think he will. I think there’s a player there too but not a top pairing d-man. I think he will be better with McLellan.

          Also in the post Pronger years the best passer – playmaking defenceman the oilers have had was pre Foot konk-out Whitney. Schultz is no where near as good with the first pass out that Whitney was. He needs to work on playing defence so he can actually retrieve the puck to do something with it. The “JULTZ” isn’t working.

  • El Pindo

    Timing might be right for a trade to Leafs for Phaneuf . Nikitin , Schultz and Purcell for Phaneuf . Ference unlikely to be moved so perhaps he might get bought out . That reduces defence from a whopping 9 down to a 7 total . Working the cap !

  • Stoic Coach

    I’m burying the hatchet with JS. Come training camp, I’ll be cheering for him and hope he proves everyone wrong. Move that puck intelligently and watch lots of Duncan Keith videos over the summer 🙂 Last year was brutal for all…hoping the new atmosphere makes him earn a spot on the team in training camp and for minutes during the season.

  • I’m not too concerned about the $3.9mil salary. There really wasn’t much of a choice for Chia. Good news is that it’s only 1 year. Schultz, NN, Purcell, Scrivens all expiring is $15.2mil to work with. There’s value in that.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    More idiotic comments from the ON tards as usual. His salary is less or equal to every other dman near him. Yet a bunch of you bozos are willing to go over 5 mill for Franson. Ridiculous. This is a good deal. I used to think leafs and canucks had the vast majority of stupid fans. Most of you on here a just as bad. Sheep. Baaaa.

  • BubbaZanetti

    Schultz has been criticized and booed constantly. Every little mistake is analyzed to death. The guy has talent but is not playing with confidence. Playing with Sekera may really help as ,even though he has flaws, is another good puck mover. Give it a chance with Schultz. On the flip side, Yak can do no wrong with many on this site despite his lack of production and abysmal defensive effort. If the fans were giving Yak half the flak they give Schultz, his agent would be asking for a trade. Again.

  • bazmagoo

    It will be interesting to see how Schultz plays in 2nd pairing minutes with Klefbom on his left, 1st pairing PP minutes and a real coach. At least he won’t be playing 1st pairing minutes with Brad Hunt on his left, lol.

  • bazmagoo

    The fact that a player of A.Ference caliber can have a NMC is one of many jokes of the NHL’s structure.

    There should be no NTC and NMC clause is the NHL. Don’t all the players always say how they are happy to be and play in the NHL. It’s a blessing not some sort of a spoiled right.

  • JasontheSchoolTeacher

    I don’t care how it happens, but the Oilers need to get one more d-man(Franson, Erhoff, Seabrook, etc.) and until that happens I am still a little scared about their defence core for the upcoming season.

    • bradleypi

      Kesler’s deal is kind of crazy. When you factor in the kind of injuries he’s had, to think that he’ll still be worth anywhere near that amount of cash when he’s in his mid-30s is nutso. I really can’t see how the Ducks got talked into that one. It’s not like he traded cash for term, because as good as Kesler is I have trouble picture teams lining up around the block to pay him $7-7.5 million next summer. If they’d pushed him to sign for only three years would the salary level have been all that different?

      But Anaheim’s already locked into Perry and Getzlaf and they made it to the conference finals last year, so they may as well go all-in with what they have, I guess. Unless the cap goes up a lot, in three years they won’t be able to ice a competitive team with those three over the hill and still on the books for years and they’ll be looking to deal at least one of them. Hopefully for their sake they win a Cup within those three years.

  • pkam

    Chiarelli has no choice but to give Schultz a 6% raise? And this is all MacT’s fault? Really?

    Can’t Chiarelli just qualify Schultz to same salary as last year without going to arbitration? No one here questions the reason for the 6% raise?

    Schulz had a great year under Kureger and a disappointing year under Eakin. So signing him to 3.675M was a big mistake, but a 6% raise after 2 consecutive disappointing years was not a bad signing because it is the only choice left after the mistake made by MacT?

      • pkam

        It is not the amount of money, but the reason for the raise.

        If you don’t think Schultz deserves the 3.675M, wouldn’t you tell him that and give him another chance to prove himself without a raise?

        Doesn’t a raise in a one year term mean you are at least satisfied with his performance but wants to see more before committing long term?

        • bazmagoo

          If it went to arbitration the Schultz camp probably had a pretty strong case for a raise based on usage of the player during the previous regime. How many #1 d-men make $3.9 million per season? Yes Schultz is no where near a #1 d-man, but he was used in that role by the Oilers during the 2014-15 season. I bet if it goes to arbitration the salary award could have been worse.

          • pkam

            Didn’t Schultz play the same role and minutes the year before MacT signed him to the 3.675M contract? Wasn’t he under an ELC for 3.775M?

            Schultz’s career stats was better his 2nd season than now, wasn’t it?

            So do you think Schultz might get more than 3.675M if they chose to go arbitration last season? Does it mean that MacT was doing the right thing too?

          • bazmagoo

            His base salary was $925,000 on his ELC, therefore to qualify him he needed a raise of 10% on that. The ideal scenario was a bridge deal of 2 years at 2.5 million and signing Petry to 3/4 years at $4 – $4.5 million. Both could have been accomplished last off season with an experienced GM. Onwards and upwards!

          • pkam

            Schultz definitely worth more than 10% over his base salary, how much did he worth is debatable.

            Schultz salary was 3.675M on his first RFA contract so we can qualify him at the same salary. how much does he worth is also debatable.

            So MacT thought Schultz worth 3.675M and most fans here disagreed. Unless Chiarelli thinks Schultz deserves more than 3.675M, why in the world would he give him a raise?

          • bazmagoo

            Neither the player or management selected arbitration last off season. Your argument is based on fiction.

            But I will indulge you. Last off season the arbiter would have been basing his/her judgement on a salary of $925,000 in the previous season. This off season he/she would be basing the judgement on a salary of $3,675,000 in the previous season. In addition to ice time, this would be a consideration. BIG difference.

        • Oilfan69

          You say that like chia had any choice in the matter, at this point retaining jultz for 3.9 is better than nothing for 0, those were the options available to the oilers. Jultz’s camp did not accept the 3.675 QO that the oilers submitted so this is how it had to play out. The Arbitration is the only card the oilers had left to play and they used it so this didn’t drag on all summer.

          Just be thankful that this wasn’t MacT as he probably would have made a VHS love tape and flew out to Jultz’s Kelowna summer house.

          Overall I’m satisfied and hope justin turns it around this season and earns his pay cheque.

          • pkam

            So you believe Chiarelli has no choice because the Schultz camp will not sign for 3.675M, but it was MacT fault to sign him to 3.675M a year ago because the same Schultz camp would not choose to go to arbitration and would sign for less?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Should be interesting to watch Marincins progress under Mike Babcock. 700 grand for a second pairing set of wheels looks like a bargain the Oilers sure could’ve used. A little surprised Peter would let others make that decision for him after their track record.

    With all the blueline luggage they’ve acquired this summer, a 700 thousand dollar project player may have been a better bet than the 3.9 million dollar project they chose to keep. Lets see if they can improve on last seasons 28th place finish with all of these obvious MacTavish/Lowe/Howson decisions.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        There’s a fine line separating the derogatory terms you selected, or maybe the term professional courtesy is a kinder gentler way to say the same thing.

        A possibility perhaps, since Katz told Peter firing them wasn’t an option. But since you put it that way, yes. This won’t really be Chiarellis team till these guys play out the string on their deals.

        • pkam

          First, there is no prove that Chiarelli was not allowed to fire MacT and Howson. It is all your speculation.

          Then not allowing to fire them doesn’t mean Chiarelli has to listen to them or let them make decision, does it? Did Katz also tell Chiarelli that he had to let MacT and Howson make decision for him?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Lets not go round and round here pkam. But i feel your speculation is also just speculation. My speculation is closer to fact though. Peter has just given them enough rope to hang themselves with their decisions made at the draft.

            Welcome straw man. It’s like i’m looking in the mirror.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Yet, you are the one chasing people around calling them names on a public forum…

            You sure do love your pot calling the kettle black games. Can hardly wait till kids like you are back in school.

          • Mooseroni

            These back and forth comments really have nothing to do with sports in these fan sites. They are just attempts to boost one’s ego’s. Let’s be smart fans and talk about how we’re going to trash the flames in the future ect ect.. and not trash our oiler brotherhood. Let’s go Oil!! Peace

      • Wax Man Riley

        I agree!

        Quicks, in what world is Marincin a 2nd pairing D in the NHL? 2nd pairing in Bakersfield, maybe behind Nurse and/or Reinheart and/or Hunt and/or Nikitin and/or Davidson and/or Oesterle.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I agree!

        Quicks, in what world is Marincin a 2nd pairing D in the NHL? 2nd pairing in Bakersfield, maybe behind Nurse and/or Reinheart and/or Hunt and/or Nikitin and/or Davidson and/or Oesterle.

  • Zarny

    A raise? WTF!?! So now they have to qualify him @ $3.9M next year? Yikes.

    Jultz needs to be better next year. Hopefully they cut his ice-time and shelter him to give him the best chance to succeed.

  • pkam

    I remember at the very beginning of the season when Schultz was like flying around the ice. He was everywhere at once and looked like his game found a new gear. And then, somewhere along the way, he stopped doing that and just sort of took it as it came. It was frustrating to watch.

    But, maybe McLellan can get him playing up to that level again. Hopefully the days of the disinterested Schultz are gone.

    I can imagine he came to the Oilers, over any other team, because he saw that talent and believed the team was poised to start competing. I can imagine how deflating the next two seasons of being out by November must have been.

    But, maybe now with all the changes, he’ll be engaged again.

  • WTF2

    One has got to marvel at the gross incompetence this situation highlights. Norris trophy candidate Shultz will be paid more than $47K per game this season to play defense for the Oil.

    It also makes you wonder why a so-called professional sports organization in their collective wisdom continues to employ MacT in a management position he has clearly demonstrated on numerous occasions he is not fit for.

  • Wax Man Riley

    TRADE PROPOSAL FIGURES : Purcell 4.5M Nikitin 4.5M,Schultz 3.9M = 12.9M . Ference on buy out = 14M . Phaneuf =7M , and about an extra 7M to spend on another player beyond Phaneuf as my example . Erhoff would be easily put into there if Leafs accepted my trade proposal and we wanted him as well .

    Defence then would have Phaneuf , Sekara , Nurse , Reinhart , Klefbom , Fayne , Gryba and probably Davidson with about 7M to tinker with by disposing of the others . I feel we would be stronger overall by going this route . Fast and swift , and none of the annoyances of having to do it through out the rest of season for most of them , etc.. Why needlessly drag them all out ?

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Schultz has not done much to impress me in his time here. But he’s young and have only ever played in the gong show that we all know too well.

    If him and Kelfbom become the regular second paring at 15-18 min a night with pp time, then I can see him pushing 45-50 points. Now, he may directly cause 60 goals agaisnt but HOPE right???

  • M22

    Clean slates for all, specifically Schultz, Scrivens, Yak….even Nikitin and Teddybear Purcell (assuming each of them are still here in the fall).

    Let’s see how they respond while in the hands of a high-level coaching staff. Management will do themselves a favor by giving these guys a chance to remove the question marks surrounding them. If they’re unable to – well then, management has its answers.

    We’re not winning the cup next year, so the Oilers can afford to take a bit of time seeing if these guys have the chops.

  • YFC Prez

    I’ve got this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that Jultz is going to figure it out this upcoming season. Maybe it’s the new coach. Maybe it’s just hope that he won’t be thrown to the wolves and play 3rd pairing minutes against the softer competition and on the pp.

    Could be just gas though.

    I think Schultz is still worth the risk of that overpay. Buy out Nikitin and Ference and bring in another big minute defenceman. Schultz will at least sit on the depth chart where he belongs, not in way over his head.

    He did have the best performance by any D-man in the AHL over a single season in a very long time. In not quite ready to throw in the towel.

    • Wax Man Riley

      You can’t buy our Ference and Nikitin.

      Next year, that’s like over $2M in wasted cap space. then $1M for 3 more years I think. Take the hit on the backend this year and if he Jultz figures it out, good for Oilers. If not, then that is even more cap room for the start of the season at Rogers Place/Arena/Ice district.