I’m starting to regret calling this the “UFA of the Day” because some days we don’t have a UFA, and other days (like today), we have two! Well here at RobTheHockeyGuy, we pass the savings onto you. Today I’m focusing on one of the most intriguing and highly sought after UFAs to be: Justin Schultz.
Name: Justin Schultz
Size: 6’1″, 185 lbs
Why the Canucks might want him: Lots of reasons. He’s young, he’s cheap, he’s full of potential, and he’s ready to play right now. Schultz has yet to play an NHL game, but all 30 teams covet him. He was picked in the 2nd round, 43rd overall by the Ducks in 2008 but they have been unable to sign him. Since then, Schultz has blossomed at the University of Wisconsin and is much more valuable than your typical second rounder. His stock has risen considerably, and most experts believe he is ready to play in the NHL immediately. He posted 47 points in 41 games in 2010-11, and 44 points in 37 games this past season.
Why the Canucks might not want him: Remember Fabian Brunnstrom? Well he was once tagged with the ‘best player not playing in the NHL’ tag, as was Jiri Dopita (remember him?). Both of those players had never played an NHL game and were flops. Brunnstrom was young like Schultz, while Dopita was old. But who are we kidding here? Schultz is more highly touted than those guys were, the Canucks want him.
What I would do: Sign him to the maximum rookie deal. With Schultz, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’ll get the league maximum allowed for an entry level deal. With 30 teams competing for his services, he’ll get the max. So with money not an issue, the Canucks will likely have to convince Schultz that Vancouver is a place where he’ll be allowed to blossom, and not get stapled to the bench or sent to the AHL.
X-Factor: Schultz is a BC boy. He’s from West Kelowna, and sometimes that might be a factor for Schultz. The Canucks are also a good team, which is both good and bad. Schultz likely will get less playing time in Vancouver than he would in Toronto or Columbus. But at the same time, he’ll be brought up in a better organization and will likely learn better habits. The biggest carrot the Canucks can promise him is that he will likely get to quarterback the Canucks’ second power play unit, with a chance (depending on how he plays) to see time on the first unit power play. If he gets that chance, he’ll be sure to rack up points and make a name for himself in his rookie season.