Justin Schultz is showing the hockey world why he was worth all of the attention he was getting during the offseason. The former Anaheim Ducks draft pick signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers which was the Ducks loss but the Oilers gain. In his first four games as a member of the Edmonton Oilers farm club, the Oklahoma City Barons, the young defenseman has put up 4 goals and 2 assists, to go along with a +6 rating, all which lead to him getting the AHL player of the week honors.
In the offseason, many people were in the dark about exactly what the Oilers were getting in Justin Schultz. He tore up the NCAA as a member of the University of Wisconsin. He can score and he can put up points from the backend. He pushes the pace with well timed rushes, but doesn’t sacrifice the defensive side to make a play. I am one who doesn’t get overexcited with incoming players. I approach it with more of a cautious optimism. But when I heard the Oilers were in the running and then won the auction for Justin Schultz, I was overcome with joy. Schultz fills a spot that has long been a sore spot for the organization for the past couple of seasons.
Schultz fills two needs for the Oilers’ organization going forward. One, is being a puck mover and puck distributor which will enhance the offense for the forwards. Two, is being a player of superb vision and understanding the game. He knows when to attack on offense and he knows when to back off of a play. It’s those traits that will allow the Oilers’ young guns to fly up and down the ice. He will only improve a powerplay that was already pretty good before the lockout.
Justin Schultz is a unique talent and the Oilers shoulld feel fortunate for landing him. While the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov may get a lot of the press going forward, Justin Schultz will just as key of a part going forward as anyone on the team, maybe even moreso. Good, young defensemen are hard to find and even more difficult to procure. The Oilers found one that is already made and ready to go as soon as this pesky NHL lockout is over.