Justin Schultz: Set for Free Agency

Justin Schultz, the Anaheim Ducks 2nd round draft pick (43rd overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry draft is now officially a Free Agent, able to receive contract offers from all 30 NHL Teams.  He however cannot officially sign a contract until July 1st.   An examination of the CBA would show the reasons why Schultz is a UFA, but the short of it is this, after 4 years post-draft any player who is drafted out of a North American League that is not the CHL, and de-enrolls from his school can become an Unrestricted Free Agent 30 days after that de-enrollment.   As a player subject to the Entry Level System, Schultz must sign a 2 year entry level deal, with a maximum base salary of just under $1 million, and performance bonus clauses.

Schultz is a highly touted offensive defenceman who has played the last 3 years at the University of Wisconsin.  Since his draft he has greatly developed his game and turned into one of the best players in all of college hockey.  He has won the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year award, been a first time conference all-star twice, averaged over a point per game twice, led the nation in scoring by a defenceman, and has even been a finalist for the Hobey Baker trophy.  With his distinguished career as a Wisconsin Badger, and the skills he possesses, he will  undoubtedly be a player sought after by all 30 NHL clubs.

Born Jul 6 1990 — West Kelowna, BC
Height 6.01 — Weight 185 — Shoots Right

2007-08 Westside Warriors BCHL 57 9 31 40 28 11 3 5 8 4
2008-09 Westside Warriors BCHL 49 15 35 50 29 6 1 2 3 2
2009-10 U. of Wisconsin WCHA 43 6 16 22 12
2010-11 U. of Wisconsin WCHA 41 18 29 47 28
2011-12 U. of Wisconsin WCHA 37 16 28 44 12

Schultz is a very good skater.  He has good top end speed, and quick acceleration.  He uses his edges extremely well, and makes quick tight turns and pivots.  He is agile, has good balance and is very strong on his skates.  Schultz’s skating is at an NHL ready level, and should help him to transition directly into the league during the 2012-13 season.

Schultz’s main skill is his offensive game.  He is extremely calm and cool with the puck, and eludes forecheckers to start the breakout.  He makes crisp passes and has good vision.  Schultz loves to join the rush when the opportunity presents it self and is dangerous when doing so.  He is a Power Play Quarterback who makes smart passes to open teammates in the offensive zone.  He also has a great slap shot and one-timer.  Offensively, Schultz can do it all and this will be extremely attractive to NHL teams.

Defensively Schultz is good but not great.  His puck moving skills are the strength of his game, as the ability to beat the forecheck and start the transition means that his team is rarely pinned in its own end for long period of time when Schultz is on the ice.    He defends well against the rush, and his quick feet allow him to stay in position to defend against the rush.  Schultz is also willing and able to battle defensively in front of the net or along the boards.  His biggest weakness is that he can sometimes get caught chasing the puck and pull himself out of position, however there has been improvement in this aspect of his game at Wisconsin.

With potential to be a top pairing defender in the NHL, Schultz and his agent’s phones will be ringing off the hook in the next few days.  There has been plenty of internet buzz and speculation about who he will sign with, but suffice it to say that everyone in the NHL will want the chance to add this good young defenceman to their prospect pool, without giving up any assets to do so.

Feel free to leave your comments below and follow me on twitter @LastWordBKerr

… and thats the Last Word.