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That’s rolling the dice: Khan, Pleiness say Red Wings are pursuing Justin Schultz

The Red Wings wouldn’t normally even consider telling a player who has yet to suit up for a professional game that, should he sign with Detroit, he could expect to start the season on the Wings’ NHL roster, but this isn’t a normal year for the Wings, and MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness both report that Red Wings GM Ken Holland is in fact pursuing the 21-year-old unrestricted free agent despite his high cap hit ($3.8 million including bonuses) and his agents’ requests for ensured playing time:

From Khan, via RedWingsFeed:

“We’ve contacted his agents to express the Detroit Red Wings are interested in signing him to a contract,’’ general manager Ken Holland told M-Live.com. “We think there’s a tremendous opportunity in Detroit.’‘

Many teams will be making a pitch for Schultz, a tremendously gifted offensive defenseman who some believe is ready to be a top-four NHL defenseman without having played a game as a pro.

Opportunity, not money, will be the deciding factor in securing Schultz. The Red Wings are prepared to guarantee him a roster spot at the start of the season, something every team that pursues him will need to do. Schultz’s contract will be the same wherever he goes. He is restricted to a two-year entry-level deal with a base salary of $925,000. His team must make a $3.8 million salary-cap commitment, however, due to potential bonuses, many of which are not realistically attainable. His AHL salary would be $67,500. So it’s clear why he wouldn’t want to spend any time in the minors if he doesn’t have to.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Schultz, who turns 22 on July 6, is expected to meet with his agents in Toronto on Tuesday and begin considering offers. He can’t sign until July 1.

Schultz, a right-handed shooter, has good hockey sense and puck-moving ability. He has a tremendous shot and can quarterback a power play. He had 18 goals and 44 points in 37 games this past season; 40 goals and 113 points in 121 games over three seasons.

“I like that he’s 22 (soon), he skates well, he’s close to being an NHL defenseman,’’ Holland said. “We’re prepared to give him the opportunity to be on our team. With the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (signed with San Jose), there’s a tremendous opportunity. We’re trying to rebuild on the fly. We think he would be a good fit.’‘

Schultz and Red Wings’ top defense prospect Brendan Smith were teammates at Wisconsin for one season. The Red Wings expect Smith, who played 17 games in Detroit this past season, to be in their everyday lineup in 2012-13. Holland said he would have no qualms about having two rookie defensemen in his top six.

As Khan notes, the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Oilers, Rangers, Senators, Flyers and likely another, oh, 21 teams not named Schultz’s initial rights-holder, the Anaheim Ducks, are pursuing him, and Schultz is definitely going to be the last, “Best player outside the NHL” to land a rookie cap max deal like this, so this is really a case of a team selling him on the opportunity to play for a superb organization over the long haul with an immediate chance to earn an NHL spot.

The Macomb Daily’s Pleiness confirms Holland’s stance, and I guess given the fact that Mike Babcock’s at least willing to suggest that Damien Brunner will start training camp among the Wings’ top six forwards, we shouldn’t totally be surprised here:

“He’s close to being an NHL defenseman,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a young player. We’re prepared to give him the opportunity to be on our team.”

Schultz, who turns 22 on July 6 and played three seasons at Wisconsin, was drafted by Anaheim in 2008 prior to starting college, 43rd overall, but couldn’t reach a deal with the Ducks, who had until Sunday before he could begin talks on a contract with any other team. And the Wings seem prepared to get a deal done.

“We’ve expressed we’re interested in signing him to a contract,” said Holland, who plans to meet with his agents (Don Meehan and Pat Morris) either Tuesday or Wednesday. “We think he’s a good prospect. We think there’s a tremendous opportunity in Detroit. With the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, there’s a tremendous opportunity,” Holland added. “We’re trying to rebuild on the fly. We think he would be a good fit.”
...
[T]he Wings seem prepared to at least offer him a spot on the roster once training camp breaks.

Schultz is a two-time Hobey Baker finalist and WCHA defensive player of the year. He totaled 40 goals and 73 assists in 121 games over three seasons with the Badgers.

The Wings have had their share of Wisconsin defensemen including Brendan Smith, who was Schultz’s teammate in 2009-10.

Schultz (6-2, 185 pounds) is a highly skilled offensive defenseman that analysts say has good hockey sense. He’s a good skater, has the ability to move the puck and has a tremendous shot. Schultz is also a right-handed shot. Ian White is the only other blueliner on the roster that shoots right.

And if I may be so bold?

This is the kind of bold talk Holland needs to display to “sell” Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, the real Alex Semin or whoever else the Wings will pursue upon joining a team that is willing to take some chances in order to ensure that they remain the premier destination for free agents of any and every age.

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Comments

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I hate the wait. I want July 1st and I want it now.

Posted by letsmakeit12 on 06/26/12 at 01:46 AM ET

Avatar

“Damien Brunner will start training camp among the Wings’ top six forwards”

If Holland ends up signing Parise or Semin then the above statement would no longer be true.  I’d sooner see Nyquist in the mix before promising a spot to a player thats never played in our system.

A first line of Datsyuk/Semin/Nyquist and a second line of Zetterberg/Filppula/Franzen would be difficult to improve upon.

I wouldn’t have a problem promising Schultz a starting spot ... as long as we land Suter and Garrison as well.

Kronwall/Suter—White/Garrison—Smith/Schultz makes a nice defence.
Yes, I still say Quincey and Ericsson are trade bait.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 06/26/12 at 01:47 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

Ericsson (for some idiotic reason) received a no-trade clause in his stupid, inflated, undeserved contract that he got last year.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 06/26/12 at 02:01 AM ET

perfection's avatar

I still think Ericsson will play up to his contract and that he and Kindl will both push hard for game spots. Even if we put Schultz on the roster, he will have to crack the top 6 and as someone who has never played at NHL speed, hey very well might lose that spot. Holland can promise him anything he wants but once he’s under Babs’ watch, he’ll have to earn his spot just like everyone else.

I also won’t be surprised if we see Quincey as a healthy scratch once or twice this year… you know the guy who made $3.25mil last year and is apparently due for a “significant raise”. Yet from what I saw last year, he never really did crap. Definitely not $4mil worth of crap.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 06/26/12 at 02:15 AM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

I think Kindl will be traded or waived at some point. If you look at us signing Quincey, bringing up Smith, and signing say, Schultz and Suter, we’d have 8 d-men under contract. Doubt we’d have 2 healthy defensive scratches a night.

I’m still holding out hope for Quincey - I don’t think he can be judged based on his few weeks of struggling to adapting to a new system. I don’t think he’s due to receive a “significant raise”, but nonetheless, I don’t see any reason to pay him more than his old deal was worth without showing improvement.

Regardless, highly doubt we’d scratch the guy we traded away our 1st rounder for, then signed to a new contract.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 06/26/12 at 02:32 AM ET

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well crap .. i forgot about Ericsson’s no trade clause ... maybe he’ll OK a trade to Tampa Bay.  I think Stevie Y. owes us a favor.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 06/26/12 at 02:37 AM ET

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As Yzerman often says down here in Tampa, Holland is likely “acquiring assets.”  Presumably to create /preserve the option to trade them or others to get what they really want /need.  Add Brunner & Schultz, then you can trade them &/or Kindl /Cleary (IIRC his no-trade clause expires July 1) /Quincy /White /Nyquist /Emmerton /Mursak /... whomever in a package.

Posted by vfsvfl on 06/26/12 at 02:57 AM ET

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Quincey is RFA. If somebody offers him between $3.4M and $5M /yr (roughly, scales with cap), Wings will get 1st and 3rd rounder, anything mer, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If Wings sign both Sutter and Schultz, Holland might welcome offer sheet.

Posted by Davor on 06/26/12 at 04:39 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

There’s just something off about Q.. he’s always trying too hard and acting like he’s not seems like, whether it be in interviews or on the ice.

Look at the comments he made right after leaving Detroit about being salty he didn’t get a Ring for being a Black Ace (Unlike Mike Knuble who keeps his put up since he doesn’t feel like he “won” it in 97 with Detroit) And you think for half a second, “well, he’s been gone, been a ‘leader’, had time to mature.. then he makes comments about the Aves (not that that’s ever a bad thing.. for us.)

Only problem is we wouldn’t be very big on the backend.  Smith is physical but he’s not big, same with Kronner..  Like it or not, Q is a body that can move other bodies in front of Jimmy.

But, a righty with high upside.. gotta get it while the gettin’s good.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 06/26/12 at 07:14 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

A first line of Datsyuk/Semin/Nyquist

Better is Dats/Parise/Nyquist.

Posted by MoreShoot on 06/26/12 at 08:10 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Smith is physical but he’s not big, same with Kronner..

Neither was Vladdy.

I have to say that the possibility of obtaining Schultz and Suter gets me all giddy not only about the skill of our back end, but also the speed. Nick was mentally fast, but never fleet of foot. Stuart was average. But we could field a really smooth six of which Kronner would be the elder at 31 (?)

Posted by MoreShoot on 06/26/12 at 08:17 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Quincey is RFA. If somebody offers him between $3.4M and $5M /yr (roughly, scales with cap), Wings will get 1st and 3rd rounder, anything mer, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If Wings sign both Sutter and Schultz, Holland might welcome offer sheet.

Posted by Davor on 06/26/12 at 03:39 AM ET

New compensation limits were announced yesterday.

$1,110,249 or below - No Compensation
Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 - 3rd round pick
Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 - 2nd round pick
Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 - 1st round pick, 3rd
Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 - 1st round pick, 2nd, 3rd
Over $6,728,781 To $8,410,976 - Two 1st Round Picks, 2nd, 3rd
Over $8,410,976 - Four 1st Round Picks

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/26/12 at 09:03 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

On Twitter some Wings fans seem to think if we get Suter all our D man issues are solved.  I think we lost Rafalski, Stuart and Lidstrom, hmmm.  Ericsson is not top 4, how will White do without Lids, Smith has potential but needs some NHL ice time and not sure Kindl will develop into a NHL D man.  Really all we have is Kronner.  You can never have too many D men, centers…as Scotty always said.

Oh forgot about Quincey, ..oh wait never mind!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/26/12 at 12:27 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Let’s not forget that after Ericsson sat down with his injury last season, when he came back, it was almost like he reset to the player we all expected him to be after his first couple (partial) seasons. I know it is a small sample size, but we at least have some reason for optimism. Says the guy with the Johnny Ericsson avatar. wink

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/26/12 at 12:43 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

All this Schultz talk has me remembering a guy like this in the past. Hey RW, Gramps,  do you remember Ray Stazak? A primo free agent that turned out to be a bust in the 80’s.
In Kenny we trust.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 06/26/12 at 09:52 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.