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"Blueshirt Off My Back"
New York, NY • United States • 30 Years Old • Male
I'm sure that if you're reading this blog by now you've heard of Justin Schultz, but for those who haven't, Schultz is an uber-talented offensive-defenseman who just finished his Junior year at the University of Wisconsin. While a Badger, he shared the blueline with the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Jake Gardiner (of the Leafs) and Brendan Smith (of the Wings), all of whom are on their way to NHL stardom. If you don't know Gardiner and Smith yet, you will after the upcoming season.

Of course projecting NHL output from college statistics is a complete crap-shoot, but just for fun.. All four players played 3 years at Wisconsin. In 119 games, McDonagh put up 14 goals and 32 assists for 46 points, as he's the least offensive of the foursome. In 121 games, Gardiner put up 19 G - 56 A - 75 P, while in 95 games Smith put up 26 G - 61 A - 87 P. Justin Schultz played 121 games and put up 40 G - 73 A - 113 P. Those are some pretty gaudy numbers, especially the 40 goals as a defenseman! It's no wonder why so many teams are rabidly pursuing the rookie UFA, but us Ranger fans need only to look back at players like Matt Gilroy and Bobby Sanguinetti to know that none of those stats really matter when you're on the ice with the best players in the world. Gilroy's 23 G - 61 A - 84 P line over his last three years of college made it look like we had a steal at under $2M a season.. Equally exciting was Sanguinetti's 66 G - 122 A - 188 P line in his last 196 OHL games.. but I digress.

The media has created quite a whirlwind around Schultz (who has yet to play a single NHL game..), many naming him the third biggest free agent on the market behind Parise and Suter. The kid is in a rare situation which is attractive to those counting on sparking reader interest. He was drafted in 2008 after a strong season in the BCHL. By playing another year of Canadian juniors in 2009 before attending college, Schultz satisfied the four year post-draft signing period in the current CBA before graduating. What makes this case different is the fact that he did not sign a contract with the team that drafted him, the Anaheim Ducks. Don't blame the Ducks, though. They have been salivating as he has lit up college hockey, and have tried desperately to get him signed. Schultz is leaving school early and becoming a UFA because he does not want to play in California.

What strikes me about this decision is the fact that while it makes perfect sense that nearly every team in the league is interested in signing Schultz, especially considering he will still have to sign an entry-level contract which will keep his salary and cap hit down, not once have I heard anyone question this kids character. I understand that there probably aren't many kids growing up in Canada that dream of one day playing for the Anaheim Ducks, but isn't there supposed to be some level of respect and gratitude towards the team that drafted you? Doesn't anyone else look at this public slap in the face and think that this kid, who has yet to do anything at the pro level, maybe has a bit too high an opinion of himself? NHL media pundits love to dissect the character issues of players. This has led to the questions about such skilled players as Theo Fleury, or more recently Alex Radulov. One reason that Claude Giroux fell to the 22nd pick (the pick after the aforementioned Sanguinetti ugh) at the 2006 draft was over questions about his character, and yet no one wants to talk about Schultz?

I get it. He's a free first round draft pick. Who would question that? I'm not saying that I wouldn't want my team to take a chance on an entry-level contract with Schultz. What I'm saying is that there is another side to this story that isn't being talked about and I don't know why no one in the mainstream media wants to. I guess only time will tell.
Filed Under:   Rangers   Agency   Free Agent   Schultz   Character  
June 28, 2012 5:00 PM ET | Delete
"He's a free first round draft pick"Last i checked being drafted 43rd overall would make you a 2nd round pick in a 30 team league..Just saying..
June 28, 2012 5:46 PM ET | Delete
While I agree that a player should be gratefull for being drafted, a fan from NY should aknowledge the scores of American-born players who snubbed there noses at playing in Canada and western Canada in particular in the last 20 years. This is a kid form the west who sounds like playing close to home is a dream come true, he waited the alloted time and choose not to take the early money...who knows maybe he'll sign in New York and all our theories are out the window!
June 28, 2012 6:00 PM ET | Delete
@ALeafsFan4Ever He was drafted 43rd overall in 2008, which was before he had even played at Wisconsin yet. I was insinuating that if he were in this years draft he would have been a sure-fire top 5 pick, and since anyone can sign him right now, its nearly like a free first rounder.
June 28, 2012 6:02 PM ET | Delete
@VanIslands I certainly hope he sign with the Rangers.. Haha. And I am well aware that American players have snubbed Canadian, especially western Canadian, teams. The difference, however, is that those players received a lot of negative media coverage for their snubs, while Justin Schultz is being paraded around like a hero. But maybe I see things a little differently..
June 28, 2012 6:54 PM ET | Delete
Great blog, I sent you an inbox message @tonylynch15
June 29, 2012 10:55 AM ET | Delete
""He's a free first round draft pick"Last i checked being drafted 43rd overall would make you a 2nd round pick in a 30 team league..Just saying.."He has first round potential, settle down guy.He seems like he really wants to play in Canada, the Rangers are going to need to pull something crazy to make this move.
June 29, 2012 12:59 PM ET | Delete
My bet is that he's going to be a Canuck and that the Canucks are going to either try and get Gardiner from TOR in a Luongo deal or possibly the rights to Jason Garrison in a FLA deal and match one of the guys with Schultz, I would expect it to go down before July 1st. Side not as I'm a season ticket holder for the Canucks, Justin Schultz parents are season ticket holders as well for the Canucks, hmmmmm.....they sit not to far from my seats, I'll leave you with that to chew on....
June 29, 2012 1:07 PM ET | Delete
@ss1981 I agree that the Canucks are definitely the favorite here. I think it would be huge if the Canucks could also pull Gardiner in a Luongo trade since he and Schultz are great friends and a left and right D respectively, but I don't think that will happen. Now that Schenn has been moved, I think Burke has pretty much made Gardiner untouchable.
June 29, 2012 5:19 PM ET | Delete
I agree with the Gardiner comment you made, I think it's what the Canucks want, but may not be able to attain. From the rumors right now it sounds like the Canucks are looking for a Top 6 Forward Blue Chip, honestly at this point I would be happy with Luongo for a blue chip defenceman because if you dump the contract your gaining enough cap space to try and sign a top 6 UFA or work on another trade where you may have to take some salary back.
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