Everybody wanted him, we got him. 21-year-old defenseman Justin Schultz was one of the most sought-after free agents coming into the NHL this season; now he’s decided to come to Edmonton on a two year, entry level contract that’s worth $925,000. The signing bonus will be $92,500 and his bonuses can get him a cap hit of $3.755 million US dollars.
Head Coach Ralph Krueger, President of Hockey Ops Kevin Lowe, Senior VP of Hockey Ops Craig MacTavish and Taylor Hall all met with Schultz on Thursday to discuss him coming to Edmonton. In case he wasn’t already pretty sold on the idea, they brought along Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey to help them convince Schultz. I mean really, how do you say no to that? It certainly made them stand out against the rest of the League.
“Going into that process, I didn’t expect that and it’s obviously pretty neat to get calls from guys that are legends in the game,” Schultz said. “[Gretzky and Coffey were] very nice guys and really shed light on the city of Edmonton and what it’s like to play there.”
Schultz has played with the WCHA’s University of Wisconsin Badgers for the past three seasons. In 37 regular-season games last year, he managed 16 goals and 44 points. Back in 2008, he was drafted 43rd overall to the Anaheim Ducks, but opted out of signing in favour of playing at the university level, opening up the young d-man to the rest of the NHL.
“It’s been a long process for me and a lot of tension that I didn’t think was going to get involved in it, but I’m glad it’s over and am really glad to be a part of the Edmonton Oilers organization,” Schultz said about making the decision. “It’s a team I grew up always liking and I’m really excited right now. You look at the team they have right now with all those young guys that are turning into superstars,” he added. “They have a good, solid core of young prospects and that’s intriguing to me.”
The Oilers have won the lottery yet again in signing Schultz, as he looks to be a perfect fit amongst the rest of their young guns.
“All teams could pitch the same contract and he had a chance to select his team and where he wanted to grow as a National League player, and he chose the Edmonton Oilers,” GM Steve Tambellini said. “It speaks volumes to the work that a lot of people have been doing in our organization.
Tomorrow, Schultz will sign the dotted line and make the contract – and him being added to the organization – official.
While there was controversy (and rumours) surrounding his leaving Anaheim, including one rumour about him requesting guaranteed ice time, Schultz was quick to clear it all up.
“I made it clear and [the Oilers] did as well, that there are no guarantees in this game. I don’t want to be the guy that has a guaranteed spot, I want to earn my spot — I have to earn it,” he said. Which is good, because really, when not even NHL superstars can guarantee their ice time (whether they’d like to be able to or not) it would be practically obscene for a rookie to do it.
“I have nothing bad to say about the Ducks organization,” he added. “It was great to be part of an organization with such classy people and I enjoyed my time at all the prospect camps. It basically came down to me having the option to choose where I wanted to play.”
“It was a long summer and I’ve still got to make the team, if I’m fortunate enough to make the team.”
“We believe he can step in right away and contribute,” Tambellini said. “How we mix and match, we’ll have to see how that works.
Schultz is optimistic:
“I thought there couldn’t be a better fit.”