Nick Schultz was traded to the Edmonton Oilers from the Minnesota Wild for Tom Gilbert back in February at the trade deadline. Schultz was brought in to give the Oilers a bit more stability and mobility to the Oilers defense. At the time, it was a deal I did not agree with. While it helped with the Oilers mobility issues, it made the Oilers offense from the backend even more inept than it already was. It may have been a deal born from Tom Gilbert potentially wanting to move along and the Oilers trying to find the best return. All in all, I felt the deal was a step back but one that can be overcome in a short amount of time.
What does Nick Schultz bring to the Oilers? Essentially he is what hockey people call a “safe” player. Makes right decision, low risk player, positionally sound. Schultz brings experience and durability. He has played in at least 70 games in every season minus his rookie season. What he doesn’t bring is offense and his defense isn’t quite good enough to have him break even. In his 10 season in the NHL, he has a career high of 20 points in the 09/10 season.
If I Could Grant One Wish – Identity: Nick Schultz plays a kind of nameless, faceless game. While the Oilers can use his experience, what they need are players with identities, elite ones at that. Nick Schultz is filler for the time being, expensive filler at that. Schultz either needs to find away to contribute offensively or become an elite shutdown defender. He is neither at the moment. Once the Oilers get past of having to ice “safe” players, the Oilers can start to compete with the better clubs.
Prediction For 2013 – Will Be A Minus Player: If Nick Schultz plays a lot of games this season, it will be because no other defenseman stepped up and grabbed a spot. Nick Schultz is like the good ol’ default button, it may the best option at the moment, but an option that isn’t good enough to get the Oilers out of the basement. If the Oilers want to become a better team, they need more dynamic players, and the Oilers need to improve upon players like Nick Schultz. I can’t see how Nick Schultz can help the Oilers unless he finds a new found toughness like Ladislav Smid did this past season.