The Edmonton Oilers came into the offseason with a clear idea of what they needed to do to improve their team and get back into the postseason next year, and it started on the blue line. With one major building block on defense, they needed to add depth and pieces to compliment him.
That piece is Justin Schultz, who is heading into his second year with the club. We’ve seen flashes of him potentially becoming an elite defenseman. Of course, he was prone to some rookie struggles, and tired towards the end, but has a very bright future with Edmonton.
Schultz was among the league leaders in scoring for defenseman, finishing the season with 27 points in 48 games, a solid scoring rate for a blue liner. Over half of his points came with the Oilers on the power play, as he added four goals and 11 assists with the man advantage.
His scoring total ranked fifth on the team overall, and he finished tied for the team lead in points on the man advantage. If what we saw last year is any indication, he can be an offensive force from the back end, and could be even better heading into the 2013-14 season.
The main reason for that is the adjustment factor. He’s had a year to adjust, not only to the level of play, but to the duration of the schedule. He admitted that he tired out towards the end of the season, a problem that should not exist in his second season with the club.
It’s clear that the Oilers have a special one in Schultz. Heading into his second full season with the Oilers, and playing for that next contract, there’s really no reason that he can’t take the next step and be a lock as the no. 1 defenseman for the Oilers moving forward.