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Shooting down the Schultz suggestion

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?

Window of Contention

The Rangers window of contention opened this season, a little earlier than some expected. Following a fabulously successful regular season this team went deep and were two wins away from the Stanley Cup. Adding a prospect to the blueline instead of a veteran – especially given the relative youth of the defense – makes little sense given that this team probably can ill afford to wait for a prospect to learn the ropes at such a key position. When Del Zotto and McDonagh went through the learning curve a lot less was expected of this team. The timing for Schultz is simply wrong.

No Sure Thing

A short while ago the hockey universe was abuzz with anticipation for the next blueline star out of college going through free agency. His name was Matt Gilroy and I seem to remember the Rangers winning that particular auction. Matt Gilroy was a disappointment. He (eventually) became a solid NHL’er and wasn’t a bad player for the Rangers but in a big market, with big perhaps unfair expectations, Gilroy didn’t live up to the hype. While Gilroy wasn’t quite the NCAA offensive force Schultz appears to have been, he was a winner on a strong program culminating in the Hobey Baker award. Leaning to the fact that despite a great college career there’s no guarantee Schultz will be a big time producer at the NHL level.


The Rangers will have money to spend this off season. Depending on the CBA and a few contracts of their own any shopping spree budget is yet to be determined. The Rangers have needs far greater than winning the Schultz sweepstakes. Glen Sather will likely pursue a premier forward and defensive depth. Particularly the former will cost significant money. Given that the Rangers window of contention is opening, if they pursue any defenseman with big dollars think Ryan Suter calibre rather than unproven college calibre. It’s unlikely the Rangers will throw big money at someone that can’t guarantee success. Guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would make this team much stronger. Would Schultz?

Hello Auction

We’ve already mentioned the words sweepstakes, hype, free agency, agent and the phrase ‘no sure thing’. Add auction to the list. Unlike the Rangers, half the league desperately needs a Justin Schultz. Half the league (if not more) will likely bid on Schultz. While he may very well make the Rangers better long term and while Glen Sather may certainly inquire to his availability, this auction ultimately makes no sense for the Rangers.

Update by Dave: To be clear on this, Schultz would be signing an ELC, so his salary is capped at $925,000. The auction Chris is referring to is the auction on signing/performance bonuses. That too is capped, but it’s unlikely some teams will be willing to max everything out for a second round draft pick.

And the outcome is?

Justin Schultz may very well become a premier NHL defenseman. He may dominate box scores down the line. It’s just not likely to be with the Rangers for so many reasons. Timing, money and the Rangers enviable position in Schultz’s position make him the wrong (albeit elite) prospect at the wrong time.

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  • The only way the Rangers go after him is if one of the players on their roster gets shiped out in a trade. Right now he is way to small for our blue line.

  • Honestly, with Sauer being the question mark that he is, I have no problem with them going after Schultz. Build a collection of assets, and then use them in whatever way necessary to build a winner.

    • Dave,I assume you’re one of the contributors to the blog. “With sauer a question mark I have no objection if they go after Schultz”? In one of the recent blogs one of your cohorts claimed that Sauer was the “clear out” D the team needs! He’s wrong and so are you. The absolute only reason the Rangers would need anothe finesse/offense guy,is if they do trade Erixson as the poster said! PS,for the record I believe they can win with a mainly finesse D if they are able to aquire some scoring and speed to forecheck even better,score more and thereby take some pressure off the D.

      • He is a question mark due to his health, not because he isn’t a clear out dman. He may be done because of the concussion, that is the question mark.

    • Exactly Dave – can never have too many good young pieces. And if all this kid costs is money (and below market value), then it’s a no-brainer. Even giving up a first-round pick, which has no guarantee of panning out, for someone that’s already being compared to Doughty is an obvious choice.

  • Question and comment. How are the Rangers “stacked” on D. Girardi,McDonagh,Del Zotto are solid. Staal is /has become a journeyman without the necessary bulk or strength to be a crease clearer which they need.Stralman may opt for Europe or they may not meet his price. That’s 5 of NHL caliber but still deficient in the area they need most. Prospects,Erixon is anothe finesse D which while useful is not the primary need. McIllrath is,but is he ready after 3 years in the organization and with some already labeling him a bad draft choice considering Fowler and Gormley were available. Every other roster D or prospect is a suspect! PS,do you bloggers ever let one comment thread last more than a nanosecond before posting some thing else? How can a discourse develop when you change gears so quickly?

    • Have you ever watched a hockey game? Marc Staal a journeyman??? Buddy…he’s one of the top young defenders in the league, and just happened to be out for almost a year with a concussion before playing lights out in the playoffs. We have 4 defensemen that would make top pairings for probably half the teams in the league. The 3rd pairing is the only question mark, but I think that can be filled by Erixon and Sauer, assuming he’s fit to play next year.

      Defense is the least of our worries.

    • Staal is a journey man? Really? That just could not be farther from the truth. He’s one of the young cornerstones on this team. How can you call out the bloggers when you consistently make ill informed comments like that? Just because they put up new posts doesn’t mean the discussion stops on the older ones.

  • Anyone who thinks the Rangers are deep at DEF needs to look no further than Stu Bickle playing (or sitting on the bench) practically the entire post season to realize you can never have enough depth. Prospects are no guarantees, which is exactly why it wouldn’t hurt to have one more fighting for a spot on the 3rd D pair. As of now our Defense looks like… McDonagh/Girardi, Stall/MDZ, ????/????. The ?’s will be filled by either re-signing Stralman, Eminger, Bickle (God I hope not), or Erixon/McIlrath making the team… And no I didn’t forget about Sauer, but we’ve been told not to expect him back for the start of the season. By signing Schultz the reward outweighs the risk… worst case he plays in Hartford. There is plenty of CAP space to still sign our RFA’s and go after a Veteran player or two. We’re not talking about an $8mil bidding war here… probably closer to the $2mil range… Erixon($1.75mil), McIlrath($1.295mil)… Not too much difference there. Right-handed shot, offensively-minded… I can’t see the reason not to take a shot at him.

    • Not going for Schultz would be insane.

      Under the current CBA we are looking at about 2 mil max to sign Schultz, signing bonus and performance bonuses included. That is well within Sather’s expendable cap space. Also, unless I am mistaken, an ELC requires a 3 year deal from 21 year olds, which would give the Rangers the perfect amount of time to evaluate his “superstar” billing without getting hurt too badly cap-wise. The best way to lure rookies is the intangibles and perks a location has to offer, and NYC offers more of that than anywhere else in the League… especially for a youngster like Schultz.

      The Rangers have an exceptional D squad. IMO, it will develop into the best in the NHL within the next couple years, but it is not complete, and what if some of our other D prospects don’t pan out? Yes, he is a little light, but he is just a rookie… and he has already shown “Leetch-like” promise from the point and on the PP. If Shultz lives up to even half his billing, he is worth the money. It would be crazy not to at least try.

      The “auction” is going to be over Parise… If I am Slats, I let the rest of the league burn their caps over him, and instead, I try to steal a two-way 25 or 30 goal scorer (or two) that fits Torts’ system, while they are all busy drooling and trying to figure out which of their better forwards are expendable…

  • How bout resign Stralman. Have the Schultz guy play and if he plays like a pro than trade Stralman at the deadline for some draft picks or a veteran for the playoffs and than it can look like this
    Staal- Schultz
    MDZ- Sauer
    This way they will play with 6 defensemen instead of 4 or 5 d men. If Sauer doesnt come back than play Erixon and move MDZ to RD. or mcilrath can learn RD or Erixon or keep Bickel

  • The Rangers must absolutely target Schultz, even more so than Parise. Schultz gives the Rangers options that they wouldn’t have unless he was in the fold. Sign the kid and let’s hope Tom Wilson falls into our laps and it will be another good year of adding depth to the team.

  • Are there any others that are in Schultz’s or Erixon’s situation right now? Maybe a goalie or a forward worth mentioning?

    • Nobody of that caliber – sort of rare for first or second-round picks that are regard this highly not to sign. Interesting that Stl. chose not to sign Brock Beukeboom though – he could go back into the draft and join Henrik Samuelsson, Stefan Matteau and Zach Stepan as prospects with Rangers bloodlines.

  • Maybe I missed something here…but if Shultz is ELC capped at $925k and his bonuses are capped (dont know the amount…unless Im wrong that seems like Steve Eminger money here…call the kid and offer him a deal…if he comes to NY great…if not “oh well”…if he comes and is rubbish…couldnt be worse than Woywitka…if he turns out to be great…jackpot!

    I think the Rangers top 4D are the best in the NHL as a group…after that it falls off of a cliff with Sauer out and Erixon and McIlrath developing…Sather can afford to take a blind chance for less than $1M.

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