June 30 2012 02:58PM
It was a long, hype-filled road, but the highly regarded defensive prospect Justin Schultz has finally decided which team he will play for next year. And that team is the Edmonton Oilers.
"The Decision" was finally narrowed down between Edmonton and Ottawa this afternoon before the soo-to-be 22 year old settled on the Oilers. His contract is a two year deal worth $925,000 in base salary and up to $2.85M in bonuses for a total cap hit of $3.77M.
It's rare for prospects to choose not to sign with the team that chose them. Rarer still that they generate such interest across the league when they become free agents. Schultz was originally selected in the second round by the Ducks in 2008, but his stock quickly climbed when he became a leading scorer for the University of Wisconsin in the final two seasons of college hockey. Schultz's point-per-game pace over those two years was 1.17, which is good for a forward but outstanding for a blueliner.
Thomas Drance of Canucks Army looked at Schultz's numbers recently and found they compare favorably to a number of other quality offensive defenders who have made the NHL recently.
Not A Saviour
So yes Oilers fans should be excited. The team has added a legit prospect on the back-end who could become a fixture on a potent power play down the road. On the other hand, everyone should remember that Schultz hasn't played a game in the NHL yet and it's not like he's going to become the Oilers blueline anchor overnight, but the kid has potential to be a very good blueliner.
The hype surrounding him wasn't necessarily out of step with how good he is as a prospect, but let's keep in mind Schultz is still a rookie and it usually takes kids a few years to really get their legs under them at the NHL level. Expectations should be that he can be a 2nd pairing D-man, and help out an already good PP.
Schultz has a bomb of a shot and excellent vision. This is a solid signing because he doesn't cost much. They didn't have to overpay him, like most teams do with UFAs.