At the young age of 22, Justin Schultz was one of the most sought after players in the off-season. This might come as a shock to most people since he has never played a game in the NHL. Schultz was drafted in the 2008 draft by the Anaheim Ducks, but then went back to the BCHL to play another season with the Westside Warriors.
Later, Justin chose to play D1 hockey at the University of Wisconsin, under head coach Mike Eaves. There he was voted All-WCHA First Team and WCHA Defensive Player of the year for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Unfortunately, in his time as a Badger he never won a national title as they lost to Boston College 5-0 in the 2010 Championship at Ford Field.
Schultz decided to leave the University at the end of this third year making him a free agent under the current CBA agreement. The Ducks had his rights until June 24, 2012, but after that were only given a short window of time to retain their A-potential prospect. Since they failed to do so, Justin found himself with offers from almost every NHL team- little did they know he already had his list.
After slowly thinning down his options he chose to sign an entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. And why wouldn’t he? Edmonton has some of the highest rated prospects in the world, not to mention the past three number one NHL draft picks. The Oilers will only get better in time, it’s the waiting that’s hurting the fans. This is why general manager Steve Tambellini made such a push to get Schultz on his team.
The most heard question that was asked in the upcoming days to the 2012 NHL Draft was if the Oilers were going to grab a defenseman, like eventual number two pick Ryan Murray, the position where they need the most help. They answered that question by picking Nail Yakupov, the star right winger from Russia. Some people criticized their choice but they new Yakupov’s talent was to high to look past.
This situation puts much added pressure on Schultz before he has even played a minute in the league. There is very little time for him to relax and develop, since the Oilers are expecting him to be mature enough to slide right into the lineup without fault. The possible full season lockout this year could be a blessing in disguise for Schultz so he can be as prepared as possible for the tough task ahead. The Oilers could be on the brink of a dynasty, but only time will tell if Shultz is the missing piece.