#2 PROSPECT (winter 2012): JUSTIN SCHULTZ

Imagine needing something so badly your future depends on it. This precious commodity is so dear that payment may require all your gold and silver. Further imagine the feeling you’d have if that thing–the one exact thing you needed so badly–walked in the door voluntarily and committed to you.

Justin Schultz signing with the Edmonton Oilers borders on fairytale.

  • Steve Tambellini: “Justin called us just prior to free agency.  We had all our pro scouts in the room, all our management, all our coaches. Everyone was in the room. And when Justin told us his decision, there was an eruption of cheers and emotions because we knew this was not just a very good young player coming, but confirmation that we are doing the right things. His decision was so important on so many levels. For the hockey club, it was confirmation that we’re doing the right things. For the city, it was important because of the times we’ve been shunned, whether it be free agents (who wouldn’t come) or people who wanted to leave for various reasons. It was important for the city for someone to choose Edmonton because he believes in where we are going. It was important for someone to choose Edmonton for all the right reasons.”

Summer 2012: #2

Winter 2012: #2

Pre-Draft

  • ISS: 42
  • CSS: 38
  • Bob McKenzie: 58
  • Redline: 55
  • Draft Day Scouting Report (Mike Remmerde): Strengths: Excellent skater. Big time shot from the point. Weaknesses: Soft – no physical presence. Slight build (6.01, 163) and will need to bulk up. Not aggressive with the puck. Outstanding skater with a smooth stride and good pivots. Doesn’t use his speed. Good asset on the PP – loves to shoot the puck and can his shot on net consistently. Shot is hard and he gets it away quickly. Good overall hockey sense, but doesn’t seem to move or carry the puck real well. Decent decisions in defensive zone, but just does not even try to use his body.  Summary: Lacks some zip in his game. With all that skating and puck skill, I’d like him a lot more if he had more confidence or aggressiveness offensively.
  • Anthony Mastantuoni, NY Sports Day: Schultz is the cousin of former Capital first round draft pick Kris Beech. Justin is an offensive blueliner who uses his speed to jump into the rush, and the best part is that he has the hockey sense to know when to do it. However, he does need to work on defensive game and he needs to add some muscle to his frame (6-1/163)
BEFORE THE SIGNING
  • Corey PronmanSchultz is a player defined by his puck possession skills which are easily high-end. He is a player who one NHL executive described as having “outstanding hockey sense and poise with the puck.” Schultz can make special plays because of his high-end if not better vision and offensive instincts. If you want a defenseman who can control a power play, make great outlets, be creative with the puck, hit his passing targets through tight seams, and know when to join the rush, then Schultz is your guy.
  • More Pronman: Schultz projects as a potential #2 defenseman in the NHL. While he should be able to log tough minutes, I don’t think he’ll be your best shutdown defenseman. He’ll be pretty good in that area, but he can be a team’s best power play guy. Keep in mind, though, that he only turns 22 in the summer and defensemen tend to have much more risk/variance on their projections than forwards when making that jump to the NHL. I love his talent level and I think he certainly can reach his projection, but due to his position I wouldn’t go say he’s a “sure thing” to do so, nor would I say he’ll peak in the next 1-2 years. The team that signs him could reasonably expect him to step onto their second pairing and be good on the power play from the get-go, which would be a great asset, with the ability to be even greater down the line.
  • Thomas Drance:First of all, Schultz has serious pedigree. Gilroy and Brunnstrom were undrafted late-bloomers, whereas Justin Schultz was part of the ridiculously loaded 2008 defenseman draft class (along with Doughty, Pietrangello, Bogosian, Karlsson, Carlsson and Myers). The Wisconsin Badger was selected in the second round of that draft – two slots behind Canucks prospect Yann Sauve – and he’s been highly touted ever since. Secondly, when you look at the numbers, it’s pretty clear that Justin Schultz was the single best offensive defenseman not playing in the NHL this past season. He’s not the best blue-line prospect under the Sun (for my money, that presumptive title belongs to Bruins prospect Doug Hamilton), but at a minimum, Schultz looks like he’s ready to produce offense at the NHL level.
(photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson)
The truth is that the Oilers as an organization probably don’t deserve Justin Schultz. They failed their way to Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov; Justin Schultz probably took one look at the Boys on the Bus 2.0 (forwards), glanced at the blue and concluded he could bat in the heart of the order from the beginning–and he’s right.
I  don’t really care about how he got here, or who to credit or blame, hell I don’t give a tinker’s damn about much else aside from this young man is part of the future! For Edmonton Oiler fans, Justin Schultz is like Christmas morning. This is not a time to question, this is a time to give thanks and count your blessings. All debts are paid. In full.
Past #2 ranked prospects on December lists:
  • December 2004: G Jeff Deslauriers
  • December 2005: C Marc-Antoine Pouliot
  • December 2006: C Rob Schremp
  • December 2007: C Andrew Cogliano
  • December 2008: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2009: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2010: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2011: C Anton Lander
  • December 2012: D Justin Schultz

The only thing left is to pray for good health, hope he can play defense (early viewings are good) and   wish that wrister into NHL success. Above, Pronman suggests he projects as a #2, and that seems about right. Solid EV play, miles of PP, even some PK. Oilers haven’t solved the blue with Justin Schultz, but he’s a major building block–along with Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid he’s the foundation of the future.

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28 Responses to "#2 PROSPECT (winter 2012): JUSTIN SCHULTZ"

  1. Chris Hext---formerly EasyOil--- says:

    I really wish we had a healthy Whitney. That would go a long, long way in making our top 4 really very good. Schultz, Whitney, Smid and Petry, followed by Schultz Sr and A. N. Other? Looks like a pretty damn good blue-line to me. Not World-beaters necessarily, and no Pronger/Weber types, but still – you’ve got three of your top 4 who are skilled, multi-tool defenders, and one smooth skating shutdown type. I like, a lot.

    Without a healthy Whitney? Good in a couple of years, but not yet, and although 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, that’s still a quarter of your top 4 missing. Where do you find another? I don’t see us being able to pry out a big-name D without giving up one ours. And I really, really don’t want that to happen. Been waiting too long on Smid and Petry to give them up now, and if Whitney’s done then that’s two holes you’d have to fill.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Chris: I think it could get better in a quick hurry if they acquire someone like Bouwmeester. Lets assume they do, and sign Smid while allowing Whitney and Sutton to go free.

    Bouwmeester-Petry
    Smid-J Schultz
    N Schultz-Potter
    Peckham

    And then you wait until Klefbom–if healthy–takes over from Potter/Peckham. And you have Marincin etc developing too.

    However, we’ve been saying this forever and the Oilers never do address the blue completely. Crazy way to run a railroad.

  3. Chris Hext---formerly EasyOil--- says:

    Yeah that could definitely work, but like you say it’s very rare for the Oilers to actually balance their blue – see the Gilbert for Schultz trade. Nice idea, wrong player going the other way. That’s what I worry about. If Bouwmeester were to come here, I’d happily let Whitney go – although I like Whitney, not just as a player but he seems to be a good influence on this young squad and has fit in very well with them; he also sounded open to re-signing with the team, but that was a while back and I can’t remember where I read that.

    Hypothetically LT, what do you think the Oilers would have to give up to get Bouwmeester? Can’t give ‘em too much because, well they’re the Flames, but you’ve gotta give them something, right? Couple of draft picks and a Pitlick-type? On the basis that the Flames would open up a load of cap space and Bouwmeester only has 1 year left on his deal after this. More / less? Give them a d-man in return?

  4. jonrmcleod says:

    I like how Tambellini adds twice that the Schutlz signing is “confirmation that we are doing the right things.” An added bonus: according to Pronman, Schultz has “poise.”

  5. Jordan says:

    Lowetide:
    Chris: I think it could get better in a quick hurry if they acquire someone like Bouwmeester. Lets assume they do, and sign Smid while allowing Whitney and Sutton to go free.

    Bouwmeester-Petry
    Smid-J Schultz
    N Schultz-Potter
    Peckham

    And then you wait until Klefbom–if healthy–takes over from Potter/Peckham. And you have Marincin etc developing too.

    However, we’ve been saying this forever and the Oilers never do address the blue completely. Crazy way to run a railroad.

    Really LT? Jay Bo? Trade for an overpaid #2? I mean… I’ll give you he’s a minute muncher, but considering who we already have, I don’t see the value in trading for him, if for no other reason than his contract makes it a bad trade. Besides – the 7 mil a year for him doesn’t mesh with the idea that no one will make more than Hal & Ebs – that’s the ceiling.

    Going after him once he hits free agency in 2 years for something closer to 4M per makes more sense to me. Rather take a guy who takes a pay cut to play here than an overpay.

    The only comparable clear top 4 defensemen who go to free agency next summer with Whitney and Sutton are Visnovsky (NYI), Timonen (PHI), Hainsey (WPG) & Pietrangelo (RFA – STL). Normally I wouldn’t include Pietrangelo, but he’s exactly the kind of player we need, and unless we want to take the albatross contact of Weber AND give up at least two of our young stars… our best bet to get a #1 D-man would be an offer to Pietrangello in the 4 1sts compensation category.

    Price is Steep, ruins the salary grid, and could bone the francise if many of the young guys take some time to develop, but…. it could also be exactly what this franchise needs to go from building a contender to Contender with shaky goaltending.

  6. Gi JQE says:

    Jordan,

    I love PIETRANGELLO as much as everyone. Problem is so does STL. They will match any offer just as NAS did….

    I thought the idea of SEKERA was a solid one. Top 4 guy who wont cost us everything. BUF should be in a tight cap spot and we could get him and his middle cost contract for prospects and picks instead of creating more holes to file one.

  7. Beaker says:

    Jordan,

    I would just like to see the oilers do something inventive on D… I dont mind having a D by commitee type team if you have have a solid top 6 (above average in the league at the very least) but then shore that up with higher end goal tending (however you achieve that) then just outscore the other teams.

  8. delooper says:

    What a step up from previous #2′s. :)

  9. nelson88 says:

    LT.

    Might of missed it but I didn’t see your historical #1′s listed. Outside of Ebs are you trying to jinx him? ;)

  10. RENNAVATE says:

    Toni Rajala (woot) and Cameron Abney (whatever) called up to OKC.

  11. russ99 says:

    The Oilers are setting up a nice mix of defensemen, but Whitney can’t stay past thus year given his injuries (unless they miraculously heal) and that opens up some cap room to bring in a guy.

    I’d prefer to see a big tough guy with skill brought in for the top pairing, since we’re good with puck movers in Petry and Schultz the younger, and possibly Marincin in the mix too. Too bad about Klefbom, the injury pushes his arrival date back at least a year.

    RENNAVATE,

    Don’t forget Cornet. Glad he’s back, hope he takes this chance he’s been given. Sometimes you need secondary scoring on the bottom 6 over a gritty forward that offers little on the scoresheet. Hopefully Rajala can add some of that too.

    Chris Hext—formerly EasyOil—,

    I still maintain that was a good deal. Schultz the older is a solid lower pairing guy and Gilbert would have taken away crucial ice time from our young puck movers, especially on the power play, and pitching in his usual weak own-zone play.

  12. RexLibris says:

    So this Schultz guy is alright then?

    Just a note about Whitney, I’d bring him back. He’ll likely take less than $4 million, if only by $500K, and he has displayed some leadership, at least from what little I’ve seen. Also, if we do end up playing him down the defensive rotation doesn’t that speak to our depth?

    The blueline corps, if we were to let Whitney go to free agency, would have lost both Sutton and Whitney from last year. Peckham or Teubert will replace Sutton, but are we ready to put Schultz in as Whitney’s immediate replacement. I’d rather keep them both so that the veteran could help mentor the rookie.

  13. slopitch says:

    Would Calgary move JBo before Iggy/Miika? I like JBo, don’t like his salary. Id prefer having a Hall cap. But I do agree with LT where he’s right in saying they could get a lot better in a hurry if they acquire someone like JBo. Maybe Boston decides they want Hemsky to play with Krejci and there is a window to get Hamilton. I really doubt it but man a 6″5 (potential) top pairing dman is exactly what this team needs.

  14. Matt.N says:

    Here is a fun name that is going to be UFA on July 1 2013. Robyn Regher. He turns 33 in April. Talk about a minute eating defence first veteran.

  15. jp says:

    Matt.N,

    His play has slipped, no? I haven’t watched him play lately, but he only got 18:37 TOI per game last year, and had the 2nd worst +/- on the team. Some of that may be situational, but there’s nothing impressive about those numbers. I’m sure he’s still got some gas left though. He sure would be a nice add for the right price. Certainly an upgrade over Sutton and co.!

  16. OilLeak says:

    Lowetide:
    Chris: I think it could get better in a quick hurry if they acquire someone like Bouwmeester. Lets assume they do, and sign Smid while allowing Whitney and Sutton to go free.

    Bouwmeester-Petry
    Smid-J Schultz
    N Schultz-Potter
    Peckham

    And then you wait until Klefbom–if healthy–takes over from Potter/Peckham. And you have Marincin etc developing too.

    However, we’ve been saying this forever and the Oilers never do address the blue completely. Crazy way to run a railroad.

    I would look at making a trade with Winnepeg, they are short on offense, but have some very nice defenseman that we could use. Tobias Enstrom or Zach Bogosian would fit in nicely, but I imagine one of the super kids would have to go to acquire them.

  17. RexLibris says:

    slopitch,

    Hemsky would have to post back-to-back 90 point seasons for Boston to consider that move.

    Not that I would vote against it.

    *shakes his head imagining what Morgan Rielly and Doug Hamilton would look like as a defensive pairing*

  18. jfry says:

    Reggie is done. It’s been a few years now.

    For all ntents and purposes, jbo is gilbert who plays lower event and four minutes more a night. He’s over priced, but not radically. Also, there’s no way jbo signs a value contract in two years. He maybe signs at a million less, given current marketplace. I think its reasonable to see jbo being given away on the cheap given calgary’s current roster situation and their love of brodie and the overpay on giordano (who is nowhere near as steady as jbo). On our team and most in the league, he’s a clear number one dman.

  19. Truth says:

    I love remembering that Hamilton was Toronto’s draft pick.

  20. godot10 says:

    The Oilers can probably afford Bouwmeester for two years as a bridge to one of Klefbom, Musil, Fedun, or Marincin.

    And after two years, Bouwmeester might be interested in signing a reasonable contract to stay. Others would have the spotlight. He could just be his laconic introverted competent self.

    I still think Yandle is more likely, because the Oilers have what Phoenix needs (Hemsky), and vice versa.

    But if Calgary is interested in prospects….a deal is possible.

  21. DSF says:

    Truth:
    I love remembering that Hamilton was Toronto’s draft pick.

    Of course, Burke followed up that trade by drafting Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn and signing Paul Ranger.

    I think they’ll be okay.

  22. Matt.N says:

    This is a question for anyone that has been following Schultz at the AHL level. His offence is obviously freakish right now, how is he doing without the puck? How is his play in his own end? Positioning, physical play etc?

  23. Matt.N says:

    godot10:
    The Oilers can probably afford Bouwmeester for two years as a bridge to one of Klefbom, Musil, Fedun, or Marincin.

    And after two years, Bouwmeester might be interested in signing a reasonable contract to stay.Others would have the spotlight.He could just be his laconic introverted competent self.

    I still think Yandle is more likely, because the Oilers have what Phoenix needs (Hemsky), and vice versa.

    But if Calgary is interested in prospects….a deal is possible.

    I don’t know that I would take Bow for free right now because of salary.

  24. RexLibris says:

    godot10,

    I would gladly move Hemsky for Yandle, though that seems like a steal for the Oilers. While we’d probably have to sweeten that deal a bit, I’d add even more if Phoenix threw in Samuelsson.

    Hemsky and Gernat for Yandle and Samuelsson? An exchange of immediate needs and future strengths?

    I’d hate to lose Gernat, but getting Samuelsson would be great.

  25. leadfarmer says:

    DSF,

    But if you add Hamilton, a likely future top pairing defenseman and likely #1, and a # 1 center in Seguin they would of been more than okay.

  26. DSF says:

    leadfarmer:
    DSF,

    But if you add Hamilton, a likely future top pairing defenseman and likely #1, and a # 1 center in Seguinthey would of been more than okay.

    They added a PPG player.

    Seguin appears to be the best of that draft but, until he out produces Kessel, Burke is doing just fine.

    I know Oiler fans are addicted to draft choices but lots of things happen on the way to Grandma’s House.

  27. Marc says:

    DSF:

    Seguin appears to be the best of that draft

    And your basis for saying that is?

    Hall has more total points, more goals, has a higher points per game, plays tougher opposition and has emerged as a team leader – his sales pitch was cited by multiple sources as a key reason that Schultz signed with the Oilers.

    Skinner also has more total points, more goals and a higher points per game than Seguin.

    Seguin is a fine young hockey player. I would have been absolutely fine with the Oilers taking him. But the only basis for saying that he’s the best player in the draft is that it will annoy Oilers fans, which isn’t a metric that’s been embraced by either the traditional or the advanced stats community, only by Hockey Wilderness and you.

  28. Ryan says:

    I don’t get the Yandle buzz. Sure if Schultz hadn’t fallen into our lap, but Yandle isn’t exactly a multi-tool. Would give us a ridiculous d pairing with Schultz on the number one pp unit though.

    J Bo would be a solid addition. We do need a mix of players. Isn’t Yandle like a garbagekov with much better offense and slightly worse defense?

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