WWYDW: The Plan for Justin Schultz

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Any general manager needs to have some idea of the way forward. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, the path is obvious in some cases. Connor McDavid, for example, should be a fixture for as long as he’s healthy and willing to play in Edmonton. On the other end of the scale, expensive stopgaps like Teddy Purcell and Nikita Nikitin are unlikely to get another contract with the Oilers.

That brings us to Justin Schultz, the undeniably talented and exceedingly controversial defenceman who could plausibly be with Edmonton for another 10 years or be gone within the next 10 months. Armchair general managers, your question this week is this: What would your plan for Schultz look like?

Five Approaches

Peter Chiarelli2

Sign him to a long-term deal while his value is low, like Edmonton should have done this summer. We all saw what this guy did to the AHL in 2012-13. We all saw how well he played right out of the box for Ralph Krueger that same year. He’s a young right-shooting, puck-moving defenceman on a team that lacks exactly that guy. He’s going to rebound under Todd McLellan and cost more next summer, so the play here is to lock him up now while the failures of recent Oilers teams obscure his true value.

Sign him to a shorter-term contract extension this summer. Schultz was overhyped entering the league, but he can still help. He’s not a franchise cornerstone, but he’s a useful young defenceman and he’s not going to be all that easy to replace in the summer. Sign him for between one and three years, and then see what happens.

Always in motion is the future. Look, there are radicals on both sides of this debate, but the truth is we just don’t know. Yeah, Schultz has his issues, but a lot of them might have to do with playing monster minutes for a terrible team, and everyone knows offensive defencemen look bad when the power play isn’t clicking. On the other hand, maybe it’ll turn out that the team gets better and those issues are still there. Let’s circle back to this conversation in January.

Trade him, but down the road. Schultz’s negatives are such that he’s never likely to be a key player on a successful Oilers team. With that said, there’s no rush to move him, and he’s going to have more value at the deadline or in the summer after playing on McLellan’s power play all year. Hold for now, and cash him in when his value is high; this is a classic pump-and-dump situation.

Trade him, as fast as possible, if at all possible. He’s never going to be worth his contract and other teams aren’t going to be stupid enough to pay for him down the road; that’s just the way it is. Shop him now to teams like Boston and Columbus that need defencemen, and offer to retain half his contract. Get back some futures in exchange and be happy that the defensive logjam has been cleared up a little. If he isn’t moveable, be prepared to walk away from his contract next summer.

My View

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I’m skeptical that Schultz’s issues as a two-way player are ever going to be resolved. With that said, there’s no upside to moving him now that Cody Franson has signed elsewhere, and McLellan’s staff has always had great success building a power play, so I’d say the rough plan should be to hang on to him for the time being and then shop him at the deadline. Defencemen always seem to have value in February, and he should at least rebound enough on the man advantage to interest somebody.

As always, though, the final word on What Would You Do Wednesday goes to our readers. In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes what would your plan for Schultz look like?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    As soon as Purcell can be moved, I would look to try Schultz at forward. He has a wicked wrist shot that would be more valuable there, and his defensive responsibilities would be lessened. Might even try him with McDavid.

    • A-Mc

      I wonder what the probability of this would be, especially since Todd had Brent Burns for so long. Schultz might legitimately be a better forward than a defenseman and it would be a fairly unique opportunity if the Oilers had a player that could be swapped between positions depending on the situation.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      This should be the course if they cannot trade him and/or he continues to stink…..

      Dallas did this with Darryl Sydor and it worked for a few years. Oilers should consider doing the same…He can stay a defenseman on the powerplay…. but ultimately his even strength time should be as a winger.

      • Canoe Ride 27.1

        This I don’t agree with.

        It’s one thing to jump up into the play from the back end and create something. Then move back into your defensive position.

        It’s very different trying to create opportunities in the o-zone, as a forward in a smaller area with not as good of an view. Things happen fast and it’s tight. Not that it’s impossible but it’s not an easy transition for most.

        • Dwayne Roloson 35

          You make it seem like playing defence is easier than being a forward. Theres a reason 18 year olds can play forward and d-men come in aroun 21-23 years old and hit their stride 300 games into their career.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    I feel the Eakins Era has lowered his value. Our PP went to hell and allowed a record amount of short handed goals. Lots of players had the worst seasons of their careers with Eakins and we were out of the playoff race in the first month of the season for 2 years in a row with him.

    We did better with ralph kreuger who had Magnus Paajarvi as his 2nd line LW and we were close to a .500 team with Nelson.

    I would give Schultz a redo on his ELC. 3 years at around $3M and dont play him as the #1 d-man.

    I think Schultz having a real coach will help him a lot this season. Plus the McDavid effect. Guys seem happier and are probably working harder.

    • Spiel

      This I agree with. A big thing is going to be his attitude and does he really want to play in the NHL. Oiler management should have an answer to that fairly soon.

      If you had him at 3M’ish for 3-4 years, he’s trade-able.

  • The Goalie 1976

    Trade him, as fast as possible, if at all possible.

    His negative attributes heavily outweigh any positives. I think he has a negative trade value, and is basically worthless to other teams, unless you are taking an equally flawed player back.

    Should have walked away from his RFA contract this summer and used that $$$ to sign Franson, or someone else who can help the team win.

  • 15w40

    His salary likely dictates that his departure is a foregone conclusion. If the previous management hadn’t awarded him for heights not yet attained, he may have well been a useful piece.

    A 3rd pairing PP specialist does not make $4+ million per year.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    I truly want to see this guy succeed but I just don’t ever see him having the intensity and physicality required by today’s NHL d-man.

    I’m hoping we build some value and move him by the deadline as we make a run.

    Prove me wrong Justin.

  • jonnyquixote

    He should have been traded for whatever the market would bear, and Franson signed as a short-term replacement. As soon as that sticker went down on Franson, the team should have jumped on a 2 or 3 year deal at a reasonable price point.

    This is not because Schultz is a Bad Person or a Bad Player, but because it’s going to be really hard for him to succeed here after those years of dysfunctional play in a dysfunctional organization treating him like he was the 2nd coming of Nik Lidstrom.

    But there’s no reason that, on a good, deep team where he’s not asked to be something he’s not, and some willingness to accept good, smart coaching, Schultz can’t be the 2nd coming of, say, Keith Yandle. Or maybe just Tom Poti, which is still okay.

    So with that window closed, now the goal has to be to support Schultz. Deploy him appropriately, see how he plays and responds to the new coaching, and make a decision next year. If he can get 40 points or so and keep the PP humming while playing responsible 2nd pair minutes, then sign him to a reasonable long-term contract if he’s willing, a reasonable short-term contract if he’s not, or trade him for the best value the market can bear if there’s no accord at all.

    There’s no rush right now, and no reason to not support him now and evaluate later.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Schultz is the kind of Dman that will always be overpaid. He can put up points, and therefore earning 4mil+, but he is likely to never be as good with overall defensive play to actually earn his salary.

    Hope he has a decent year and trade him at the deadline.

  • toprightcorner

    Start him at 14 minutes a night and every 5 game it will be adjusted. If he is solid in his own end, success as a PP QB and limits his turnovers then he gets another minute, if he doesn’t, then he losses a minute.

    within a couple months you will eather have a guy in the top 4 and PP QB playing 20 min a night or a guyy sulking at the end of the bench getting less time than Gadzic.

    Point being, if hi improves he can earn more time and a longer leash, if not then he can waste away.

    My guess is that he stays middling as a bottom pair, puts up 32 pts and looks like a peewee in his own end and then he gets traded for a 7th rouder or traded for a UFA they sign.

  • YFC Prez

    The first question to be answered with a defencemen in the NHL is, can he play defence?

    The next question then would be does he have other NHL qualities that more than make up for the lack of the first question, in other words are you a contributor (+ player) or distractor (- player) from team success?

    The final question then would be, how do we extract the greatest return for the asset?

    side note: I think our PP is better off without him on it and frankly the PP doesn’t need him, Hall, RNH, McDavid, Eberle, Pouliot, Yak, and Leon is surely enough fire power for any team throw in the token half descent slap shot from the defensemen and there you have it.

  • 15w40

    “Can you beat this horse again? That is a stupid move.”

    “This is some dumb stuff right here”

    “Idiotic as usual”

    “Stupid as well”

    Good to have the ole keyboard warrior offering his expert opinion on a wide array of topics.

    First of all, in my post I never said anything about Schultz other than what he has shown to be to this point. Obviously your assertion is that he has been horribly miscast and misrepresented – noted.

    Secondly I like how you cherry pick. Schultz lit the AHL on fire. This is true, however it is also true that he did it while playing with an entire #1 line from the NHL to work with. That’s fine but the main difference is that he rarely needed to defend because they always had the puck.

    The thought that you can take successes in the AHL and apply them as evidence of a good player is a good one. But then you can’t turn around and say that just because someone had success in junior doesn’t apply going forward – it might, it might not.

    Reinhart will never have the offensive upside that Schultz does but hopefully the larger defensive upside pays dividends and that translates to less goals against.

    Before you fire up the ole wind machine – I know the goaltending was not good but it is also true that the amount of grade “A” scoring chances that they faced were higher than any other team.

    You have an opinion – good so does everyone else. Yours is no more important so save the sanctimonious dad knows better comments – it doesn’t make you look smarter just smaller.

  • YFC Prez

    I don’t know why people knock JS because of his salary. If your boss walked into your office and offered to double your salary would you turn it down.

    Even though his play did not justify it, management made the offer and he took it. So would I. Rip into management for that, not JS.

  • Unfortunately I think they will need to stick with him for a another season or two to see if he can pull it together, A trade won’t happen, I don’t see any team in the league trading useful assets for Jultz.