Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz is Edmonton’s blue line hope for the future

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Justin Schultz was perhaps the most hotly pursued free agent defenseman of the summer not named Ryan Suter.

The unsigned Anaheim Ducks draft pick was courted heavily by teams and his desire to play back home in Canada won him over as he signed a two-year deal with the Oilers. After playing three years for the University of Wisconsin, he’ll now look to earn a spot in the Oilers top-six along the blue line.

The question people have now is whether or not he’s worth the hype. The numbers he put up in college certainly lead you to believe he is.

After playing in the national championship during his freshman year, Schultz broke out in a big way the next two seasons scoring 34 goals and adding 54 assists during those years. In each of those seasons he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, college hockey’s top prize. Managing to do that in both his sophomore and junior seasons is rare.

Can those skills translate into the pro game? The Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini sure hope so. After spending the No. 1 pick three years running on forwards, Edmonton’s severely lacking defensive corps was lacking a young stud of their own.

If Schultz pans out the way many believe he can, he’ll have fans in Edmonton thinking he’s the Paul Coffey of a new generation of young Oilers stars.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: