by Lisa Brown on 04/11/12 at 12:00 AM ET
With the third consecutive first overall draft pick, the Oilers will have to take Nail Yakupov because there is no way that they could pass up that talent. What that means is that the Oilers may have just become an even more attractive team to upcoming UFA defenceman Justin Schultz.
Schultz was the second round pick, 43rd overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL entry draft. Following the draft, Schultz played a final year in the BCJHL and then made the move to the college playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
This year Schultz has 16 goals and 44 points in 37 games and is considered to be the best defenceman in the NCAA. For whatever reason the stories surrounding Schultz say that he will not be signing with the Ducks before June 1st and will become a UFA and not re-enter the draft.
Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation put together an excellent piece on Schultz earlier this month bringing attention to Schultz’s situation saying:
It won’t become a bidding war because he can only make the maximum base salary of $875,000 on his entry level deal. (He makes the max of the year he was drafted.) Due to his age, he will only be required to sign a two-year entry level deal, not three, and that is why he will want to go to a team where he can play, and hopefully produce, right away.
Gregor also went on to speak with several agents, none representing Schultz, Gregor was advised that Edmonton would be an ideal location. With the Oilers, Schultz would be given the opportunity to play power play time and big minutes, helping him to prove himself and earn that next big contract. By winning the lottery and taking the forward in the first round, the Oilers will still need a defenceman, and Schultz would not be competing against a player like Mat Dumba, Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart.
While Schultz is not a proven NHL defenceman, he is more NHL ready than the top defenceman in this year’s draft which may also make him more attractive to the Oilers.
There will be a long list of teams knocking on Schultz’s door should he not sign with the Ducks, the Oilers may be a winner once again.
The Oilers can try to negotiate with the Ducks for the right to speak with Schultz and due to Schultz’s impending UFA status that may not cost much. For the Ducks they would get something for a player that they would lose for nothing otherwise. One thing is clear, this will be an interesting spring for the Oilers.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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