Archive for Justin Schultz


Justin Schultz is not coming to New York

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***UPDATE: Schultz agreed to terms with Edmonton.

In the end, the Wisconsin connection just wasn’t enough.

New York made it to the final six in the Justin Schultz sweepstakes, but in the end the 21-year-old Badgers defenseman chose to play elsewhere.  TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Schultz won’t be joining the Rangers, meaning he’ll end up with Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, or Edmonton.

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The musings are a day late today, but that’s only because all of the big news happened yesterday. Don’t blame us, blame everyone else for not making all this stuff happen before Thursday. I swear, everyone else is to blame, not us!

So Sidney Crosby gets $104.4 million over 12 years. From a hockey standpoint, that is a very risky contract. Crosby has had significant concussion issues, and could be one poorly placed hit away from early retirement. From a business standpoint, it’s a savvy investment in the face of the franchise. For an average of $8.7 million per season, the Pens get to keep their boy in Pittsburgh and reap the marketing benefits of having him there. They make more off him than he does off them, that’s for sure.

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It’s a pretty good problem to have when one of the key reasons a stud defensive prospect could be hesitant to join your team is because he’s afraid he wouldn’t be able to supplant the club’s current top-four defensemen and play significant minutes.

But the Rangers are so stacked with Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto that coveted 21-year-old unrestricted free agent Justin Schultz, who supposedly wants major responsibility from the start, may be unwilling to sign with New York.

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Justin Schultz sweepstakes begin

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The June 25th deadline has come and gone and as expected, Anaheim was unable to sign defenseman Justin Schultz to an Entry Level contract, meaning he’ll be a free agent on July 1st.

Schultz, 21, may actually be the most hotly pursued of all the free agents this summer because unlike Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Schultz will be relatively affordable.

Schultz is in line to make a base salary of $925k (including his signing bonus) and would be eligible for up to $2.85 million in performance bonuses.

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Pre Free Agency Musings

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Hello everybody. I’ll be in New York in less than two weeks and it will feel odd. It will be the first summer time trip there and the first time outside of hockey season. No Rangers? Not right. I’m sure I’ll cope though. On to the musings

The Montreal Canadiens will be starting next season with Marc Bergevin and Michael Therrien at the helm of the storied franchise. I can’t help feeling that with the return of Therrien that club will be spinning its wheels for a year or two.

Speaking of Canadian teams, good move: the Bob Hartley appointment in Calgary. Bad move: Steve Tambellini getting a new deal in Edmonton. How does a general manager keep his club near the bottom of the league despite lottery pick after lottery pick and get rewarded with a new contract?

So the Rangers are linked heavily to Alexander Radulov. I can’t help thinking about Nikolai Zherdev when I think of Radulov: hugely talented on the ice, hugely problematic off it. If the Rangers get him he’ll cost a lot in dollars because he won’t sign anywhere for pittance. The cost to acquire may be minimal but the commitment to a big (but talented) risk will be significant – for whatever club snag him.

How weak is the free agent class of 2012?

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Shooting down the Schultz suggestion

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Justin Schultz is a very good prospect. There’s a distinct chance that should he indeed enter free agency, then the Anaheim Ducks will have lost a good player for the future. That said, it simply doesn’t make sense for the Rangers to be linked with him for various reasons. Yes, it’s rumoured and yes, plenty of Blueshirt fans would like him on the Rangers, but read on to find out why Schultz to the Rangers isn’t a realistic option for either party.

Pecking Order

The Rangers are pretty damn stacked at the defense position. They are stacked at the NHL level and last time most people checked, they have some pretty high end prospects en route to the NHL level soon as well (hello Erixon, Tim and McIlrath, Dylan). Justin Schultz and his agent will know all this. The Rangers may not be the 1975 Canadiens with Lapointe, Savard and Robinson, but the Rangers blueline is young, talented and one of the main reasons this team went so far this year. Where does a talent (and he’s still just a talent folks) like Schultz project in the immediate future?

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John Tortorella’s interview with Michael Kay and Don La Greca on ESPN Radio drew more attention (click here to read The Suit’s analysis), but few noticed that GM Glen Sather also spoke to the media on Wednesday.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News managed to corner the Rangers’ seldom heard from brass leader and as with Tortorella, Slats delivered plenty of interesting comments in one of his few annual interviews.

Sather discussed his pride in what the Blueshirts accomplished this year, vaguely hinted that New York would be more active in free agency than in the trade market and beamed about Chris Kreider’s potential.

But the most stunning line of all came when Sather was discussing Kreider and announced his firm stance, “We don’t trade kids.”

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Here’s the deal with Justin Schultz

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  • He’s pretty good – as in, TSN prospect expert Craig Button compared him to Kings superstar defenseman Drew Doughty.  Schultz, 21 and originally drafted 43rd overall by Anaheim in 2008, starred at the University of Wisconsin, where he tallied 40 goals and 73 assists in 121 career games (by comparison, former Badger Ryan McDonagh posted 14 goals and 32 assists in 119 games).  He’s considered to have elite offensive skills and isn’t too shabby in his own end either.  The consensus seems to be that Schultz will be ready to step into an NHL lineup immediately and play a significant role.  (Highlights)

“It’s his vision. It’s his composure with the puck. It’s his puck skills,” Eaves said. “And the one thing that’s just a gift is his shot. He has the innate ability to get that puck to the net to allow for rebounds, tip-ins and goals. He’s got what we call a ‘smart shot.’

“He can bring the heat, but there are times he recognizes, you have to take a little off to get it at the net. Often times, those are the shots that go in.

“But his shot is very special. That is one unique weapon he’s got.”

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Contract talks aren’t going to be a distraction for Brandon Prust. Per Larry Brooks, the right winger is putting contract discussions on hold while the Rangers are still trying to lock up the Atlantic Division title. Prust is one of seven pending unrestricted free agents, but one that the Rangers will likely pursue and re-sign prior to July 1.

Since coming over from Calgary in 2010 as a part of the Olli Jokinen trade, Prust has been a pleasant surprise and an integral piece of the Rangers core, and has even chipped in offensively, with 55 points over the course of two and a third seasons with the Rangers (179 games). In addition to being a part of one of the Rangers top defensive lines, Prust is also heavily relied upon to kill penalties.

In NCAA news, also per Brooks in the same article, the Rangers might pursue Wisconsin Badgers defenseman Justin Schultz. The talk on Schultz may be a bit premature though. Schultz was Anaheim’s second round pick in 2008 (43rd overall), but has yet to sign with the Ducks. If Schultz does not sign by July 1, he will be a free agent.

Schultz, drafted out of the BCHL, joined Wisconsin in 2009, and was teammates with both Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. Following McDonagh’s departure, Schultz was relied upon as a top defenseman, and answered the call. In his last two seasons, the 6’1 185-lb defenseman has averaged more than a point per game from the blue line, with a line of 34-57-91 in 78 games.

This situation is similar to the Tim Erixon situation, but not identical. Since Schultz went to play in the NCAA, the drafting organization needs to have the player signed by July 1 following his senior year. In Erixon’s case, he did not play in the NCAA, thus he needed to be signed before July 1 two years after his draft year. Similar, but different.

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