NHL defensemen, in the modern era, need to skate and pass very well, make quick decisions and spend as little time in their own end as possible. Puck possession and protection are of primary importance, and ‘what you leave’ sure as hell better not be much.
RE 14-15: 78GP, 12-29-41 .526
ACTUAL 14-15: 81, 6-25-31 .383
JUSTIN SCHULTZ BOXCARS, THREE YEAR TREND
- What happened here? I think Eakins had a good idea, giving Schultz a significant push in zone starts. I also believe Schultz was employed heavily in the season with the team a goal or more behind—which is a very sensible deployment of assets based on skill sets available.
- It didn’t work. No, Schultz was unable to successfully fill the role, although his Corsi did improve in the new climate. I’m not sure he’s ever going to be a good defenseman, truth to tell. I’m confident he’ll never have a coach more devoted to giving him a chance than Dallas Eakins.
- Is there a way to coax him into being a player? Don’t know.
- Once again, stirring insight. Well, Craig Ramsay knows, that I’m certain of, and I bet Billy Moores knows too. Me? I’m a fan. I don’t think he’s going to make it as a top flight NHL defender. There are too many holes, and he may be that guy who doesn’t get better with experience. He definitely has one year’s experience three times from my pov.
- Can they pump and dump? Good Christ, MORE ice-time?
- What if they backed him off at evens? That’s probably the best plan. If the Oilers can find a quality defender—I mentioned Vlasic last night—then maybe run Vlasic—Fayne as the tough minutes duo and try to cobble together another pairing out of Marincin and Andrej Sekera or similar. Klefbom—Schultz would run the Ozone starts as per this season. Nikitin is bought out and Ference rides the pressbox until required and we all know that NHL defensemen play a lot even if they’re No. 7 on the opening night depth chart.
- What’s the best thing about Schultz? He makes this diving move down from the point on the off wing and if the forward on the strong side can get him the puck….bang! Goal. It’s pretty sweet.
- What’s the worst thing about Schultz? Guys like Schultz have a specific skill set and that always includes passing ability because they handle the puck so much and have soft hands. Schultz sends lovely passes but they’re never on the tape. I don’t know if it’s lazy, or he’s developed the yips, but two seconds after he sends a pass out of the zone it’s most often coming back like a bad meal and in a hurry.
- I thought you’d say his lollygagging reaction to mistakes. Well that’s no thrill either but as he gains experience it should be less of an issue. He doesn’t have a lot of care with the puck but that should become less of a factor as he spends more time in the league. It’s not good but you’ll forgive that because he’s so skilled, but the passing is just a nightmare.
- What about playing him with Vlasic? You’d need to see a changed man for that to be workable. Vlasic can really help but not with a denver boot. It’s a matter of giving a care and paying attention to detail. Defense is tough, you have to apply yourself and work hard to improve. I think Schultz is going the other way despite the possession number above. I wouldn’t gift him Vlasic.
- It’s probably confidence. Maybe, he certainly sounded like a young man at a crossroads during the exit interview with the media, so maybe there’s some growing to do from Schultz. He had a promising start and ordinarily you wouldn’t throw him away, but of course there’s the big damn contract to renew.
- Would you walk away? If MacT can acquire Vlasic, sign Sekera and buys out Nikitin, I think signing Schultz for the same money is reasonable. If they can trade Schultz, that’s fine too. I wouldn’t sign him to more than one year and for the minimal allowable under the CBA. If negotiations get tough, I’d walk.
- Wow. Really? I don’t think this should come as a surprise. He has been horrible. If Craig Ramsay likes him, and Nelson (or the new coach) want to take a chance on him, so be it. I don’t think there’s close to enough positive evidence to sign him long term, and so it comes down to how the coach feels about him in my opinion.
- Did he improve under Nelson? In Schultz’ final 47 games, he was 49.79% 5×5 Corsi for (same) and .54 5×5/60. He was 3.94/60 on the power play though. That’s certainly a reflection of Nelson.
- What one play, in your opinion, best represents Schultz as an Oiler? Late in the season, Oilers are in a close contest and it’s (iirc) later in the game. Everything is under control, Schultz in his own end and miles of track should he choose to pursue it. Up ahead, Anton Lander is giving Schultz a nice target as he heads up the ice. Schultz hesitates (something he seems to do a lot), then sends a terrible pass into Lander’s skates. Lander makes a desperate swipe at the puck, it’s turned over (with everyone headed the wrong way) and seconds later it’s a GA. Now YOU get a minus and YOU get a minus and YOU get a minus. Ghastly.
- Is this opinion of yours because you hate him? No, I actually feel badly for ripping on him. Schultz signed in Edmonton, making him found money. I think it’s normal to have good feelings about found money. However, one of Edmonton’s major problems is on the defensive side of the puck and Schultz isn’t helping. He seems to lack awareness of the situation and his reaction time on his own turnovers can be timed by sundial. At least Marc-Andre Bergeron worked his ass off to recover.
- You can never be happy. You always hate someone. Poor Laddy. You ruined him! Laddy? Get a grip.
- You’ve been bitter since Poo. Not true! I haven’t given up on Poo, how could I be bitter?
- You’ve changed, man. You don’t even promote your guests for the radio show! I know, I’ve forgotten. Today’s guests include Jonathan Willis (10:05), Ryan Batty (11:00) and Corey Pronman (11:25). TSN1260, see you on the radio.
- What about all the other guests on other days? What about the poor people you had on yesterday? All of the shows are archived here.
- Is Schultz worth saving? As I mentioned, don’t know. I’d like to know what Craig Ramsay or Billy Moores or Charlie Huddy thinks of them. I do know that even button down coaching staffs have a lot of room for gifted puck movers and I do know their value has increased over the years. However, Greg Hawgood was Greg Hawgood and Justin Schultz is Justin Schultz. There’s a limit to what a team should give up to get from an offensive defenseman. I’d suggest Schultz is testing the boundaries.
- Should they move him to forward? It’s been discussed at length by Oilers fans and I do think there’s some merit. The problem? Those transitions rarely work out. It is true that Schultz’ defensive responsibilities would be substantially reduced as a RW.
- Would you do it? No. It rarely works.
- Why this song? It’s an easy choice. Schultz is a ramblin’ man and a wonderful skater. You can see why scouts loved him and why MacT gushes about him. The issue comes with the actual results.
- Do you think he’ll make it? Schultz has a lot of things going his way, including natural talent and a GM who clearly believes in him. He’ll have a major hurdle to jump over if the Oilers hire a veteran coach. A guy like Todd McLellan will crush his ice-time and use it like a hammer.
- Todd Nelson wouldn’t do that? Nelson would have a different relationship with MacT than McLellan. Nelson was auditioning for a job last year, McLellan would be trying to get to 40 wins.
- When was the last time an Edmonton Oilers team had 40 wins? 2007-08. Bruce McCurdy will be along in awhile to tell you why it’s not really real, though. It’s 40 wins using the Bettman gun.
- Can we linger a bit and talk about the events of the weekend? Sure. I’m just grabbing my second coffee so we have time before I do my hair.
- The lottery win. How big is it? It’s mammoth. It’s bigger than any Oilers’ event this century, including the SCF run in 2006.
- Why? That was a wonderful run but it was a one-off, especially when Pronger asked out.
- How did you feel when Daly announced it? I was trembling a little, didn’t move just had a blank stare. Mrs. Lowetide was fist pumping, my daughter was shaking her fist (now a Senators fan, her viewpoint on things has changed although she’s happy for me and Oilers fans) and my son walked by and said something about linux user interface and I spilled my wine.
- So, a big celebration! Sure, yeah. I’m still a little trembly, keep expecting the NHL to say ‘we had the video of the lottery reviewed by the NHL department of franchise safety and Orly Feaster made a mistake by pushing the button twice and we have to have a do-over’ but I’m still hopeful.
- What will you do if the Oilers win Stanley again in your lifetime? I’ll cry. There’s no sense in denying it, I’ll cry. I’ll look at old photos from the 1980s with my friends celebrating and I’ll probably chase Mrs. Lowetide around for a time. I’ll call all my current buddies and laugh and maybe I’ll head down to Whyte Avenue (after first driving to Jasper Avenue by mistake) just to see the young people enjoy the moment.
- What will you remember most from the period 1993-Stanley six? Ryan Smyth. A lot of lost seasons in there with and without Smytty, he’s the guy I’d like to see at the final game. Smyth and Fernando. That would make me cry a river. That’s if they win in my lifetime.
- Will Justin Schultz be on that Stanley team? There’s no way to know. Maybe this young man surprises us. I sure hope he does.