Let me begin by saying I do not expect the Edmonton Oilers to trade Justin Schultz—not at the deadline, not in summer. However, I think the idea of moving Schultz should at least be considered. Why? On a team where chaos rules defensively, Schultz often stands out as the least aware soldier on the field of battle.
This is his Extra Skater player card. Offensively, he’s a terrific young defender (per 82gp: 13-29-42) and when he dives deep into the scoring zone it’s a legit thrill to see. Schultz as an entertainer is worth full price of admission. However, he’s about 100 games from settling in defensively, and that’s if he’s a quick study. Justin Schultz does NOT look like a quick study as a defenseman.
Schultz’s WOWY shows he’s a drag on Ference, Nick Schultz, pretty much everyone not named Belov (who scored for the Russians this morning).
Justin Schultz gets the biggest zone start push, and that’s good business. He and Ference are in the ‘two-way’ portion of the graph and of course there’s no blue balloon for either of them. There’s a big focus on Andrew Ference and his foibles, but Schultz defensively is a major challenge (as the WOWY implies). His salary (including bonus) is $3,775,000 (if all tumblers click on the bonus side) and he’ll be RFA this summer.
What’s it going to cost the Oilers to sign Justin Schultz long term? Is he worth it? Will another 100 NHL games settle him down? Can the Oilers find a partner who can complement and cover, as needed?
I’ll say this: watching Martin Marincin play his first games makes me yearn (yearn!) for addition natural defensemen. I’m a fan of Justin Schultz with the puck and in the offensive zone. He is an adventure otherwise, and an expensive one with a summer raise on the way.
I think we need to at least have the conversation.
Edit to add: Truth asked about Erik Karlsson in his second season. This is Vollman’s Sledgehammer
Karlsson’s zone starts are even more severe (57% to Schultz’s 49%) and he’s a blue balloon. Karlsson was 20 in this season (2010-11), and it was his second season. That probably factors into the conversation (Schultz is 23 years old in this, his second season) and it might have value to post their respective numbers during their second seasons:
- Erik Karlsson: 75, 13-32-45 -30
- Justin Schultz 52, 8-16-24 -13