Earlier today TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie announced that Justin Schultz officially de-registered from his school the University of Wisconsin and now the Anaheim Ducks have a 30 day exclusive window to sign him. This is something that most people following the situation assumed would happen, but now it is finally official.
Most people also assume, that since Schultz has yet to sign with the Ducks that he is likely going to wait out the 30 days so that he can become a UFA and sign with the team of his choice on July 1st. Since he will be signing an entry level contract this is not a case of must UFAs where they sign to the highest bidder. Instead all teams will be offering the same contract, and it is a matter of where Schultz wants to start his NHL career.
The reason why this is such a big deal is, not only is Schultz the top prospect in the Ducks organization but according to Bob Mckenzie “Next to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Schultz may be most sought after UFA this summer. Blue chip, Top 4 offensive defenceman prospect.” Also, from fellow TSN analyst and former NHL GM Craig Button had this to say about Schultz “To add a little On Justin Schultz. NHL ready & a player I feel could be like Drew Doughty. Dynamic & controls game.” In other words a player that all 30 NHL teams are going to try hard to get to sign with him on July 1st if the Ducks fail to sign him in the next 30 days.
Now if the Ducks can’t sign him, which it looks like that might be the case. McKenzie also had this to say “Obvious strategy now for ANA is to trade Schultz’s rights to club Schultz will sign with but Ducks would need Schultz’s cooperation on that.” This brings the next question. If the Ducks do trade his rights, what can they get in return? Well, the key to that quote is if the Ducks do or don’t get Schultz’s cooperation. If the Ducks do not get Schultz cooperation the Ducks would likely get very little if anything in return for Schultz rights since he will be able to sign with any team on July 1st. If Schultz does cooperate that is a much different story. If Schultz for example tells the Ducks he does not want to sign with them but gives a list of say 5 teams that he would be interested in signing with, well that could start a bidding war between those 5 teams and the return would likely be a good one. A first round pick plus a prospect is not out of the question. This scenario of course can only happen with the cooperation of Justin Schultz.
I am still hoping that Schultz signs with the Ducks, but if he is intent on signing with another team, I am at least hoping the Ducks can get something decent in return.