Tag: Justin Schultz

Darnell Nurse poses for a portrait after being selected number seven overall in the first round by the Edmonton Oilers during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
(June 29, 2013 - Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

Oilers’ biggest question: What about the blue line?


For all the young talent they’ve amassed up front, and even if the goaltending proves better next season, you can’t help but look at the Edmonton Oilers’ blue line and think, Oy, that’s not a very good blue line.

And in a league where it’s rare to win a championship without at least one elite defenseman, that’s a problem.

Case in point, when the Oilers made the finals in 2006, they had a guy by the name of Chris Pronger on the back end. He was traded that summer and they haven’t been back to the playoffs since.

From 2006 to 2012, Edmonton drafted 17 defensemen. The best was Jeff Petry, who’s in Montreal now. Today, the Oilers’ best veteran is probably the newly acquired Andrej Sekera. A solid player, sure. But certainly no threat to win the Norris Trophy. 

Which is why Oilers fans are so hopeful that 20-year-old Darnell Nurse, drafted seventh overall in 2013, can become a cornerstone defender, a la Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, etc.

It’s also why GM Peter Chiarelli doesn’t want to screw up Nurse’s development by throwing him into an NHL role too soon.

“For a defenseman, it is harder to break into the league properly,” Chiarelli said, per OilersNation.com. “With Dougie Hamilton (in Boston), he had a good strong core around him, and they are completely different players. Darnell is a defender and a puck transporter. He has a few more nuances to learn as far as defending, but I saw him play at the end of his playoffs and he played well. He has world class speed and strength.

“That is a hard one (whether Nurse is NHL ready). I want to be patient with these guys knowing that they are good young players and you’d like to have them help you as soon as you can.”

The Oilers have a few other promising defensive prospects, including Oscar Klefbom and Griffin Reinhart. They’re also still hoping Justin Schultz will realize the potential they see in him.

Bottom line: Without a much improved defense, even Connor McDavid will find it tough to bring the glory back to Edmonton.

Related: Todd McLellan is under pressure

It’s Edmonton Oilers day at PHT

Todd McLellan, Peter Chiarelli

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Edmonton Oilers.

For a ninth consecutive season the Edmonton Oilers found themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs began last spring.

Edmonton’s 24-44-14 record was good for 13th in the Western Conference and 28th overall.

As a result of another poor regular season, the Oilers landed in the NHL Draft lottery and for a fourth time in six years won the first overall selection picking Connor McDavid at the June draft.

Jordan Eberle led the Oilers in scoring with 24 goals and 63 points in 81 games, but finished well off his career-high of 34 goals set during the 2011-12 season.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continued to see his goal totals rise setting a new career-high with 24 goals and matched his personal-best 56 points.

Injuries limited Taylor Hall to just 53 games. The 23-year-old scored 14 goals and 24 assists. His 38 points were good for third in Oilers scoring.

Justin Schultz was the top scoring defenseman with six goals goals and 31 points to go along with a minus-17 rating in 81 games.

In goal, Ben Scrivens shouldered the load going 15-26-11 while posting a 3.16 G.A.A. and a .890 save percentage in 57 appearances.

Off-season recap

The biggest off-season moves for the Oilers came off the ice as Peter Chiarelli replaced Craig MacTavish as the club’s general manager and hired Todd McLellan to take over as head coach from Todd Nelson.

On the ice, Chiarelli addressed some of the club’s biggest issues trading for goaltender Cam Talbot and defenseman Griffin Reinhart.

Edmonton also added depth trading veteran Boyd Gordon to Arizona for Lauri Korpikoski.

Chiarelli dipped into the free agent pool and inked free agent defenseman Andrej Sekera and center Mark Letestu.

Are we there yet? Pondering Edmonton’s defense

Barclay Goodrow, Justin Schultz

If nothing else, the Edmonton Oilers seem willing to pay to improve their defense. Did they do enough to finally see some actual results, though?

In a way, Justin Schultz symbolizes the team as a whole: expensive, hyped-up and disappointing.

His possession stats have been disastrous at times. At a glance, his offensive numbers look reasonable enough, yet he’s really been given every opportunity to produce even more. The 25-year-old’s even been a healthy scratch on a defense that’s been downright terrible at times.

The Oilers haven’t done themselves any favors by pronouncing his potential to be Norris-level and boxing themselves into a corner with bloated contracts, including Wednesday’s one-year, $3.9 million deal. All in all, it’s been an ugly start to his NHL career.

Still, a lot of people believe that he still has a chance to be a difference-maker … in a good way, that is.

Long story short, the jury’s out regarding Schultz’s potential, but what about Edmonton’s defense as a whole? PHT’s Jason Brough took a quick stab at what the Oilers’ blueline might look at, while Mike Halford also threw Griffin Reinhart’s name in the hat:

There are a few things that stand out while pondering potential pairings:

  • Most obviously, that’s a pretty expensive group, especially considering the middling (at best) results. War on Ice pegs their 2015-16 defense spending at $22.92 million, and that’s assuming Darnell Nurse isn’t in the mix.
  • It’s highly mercenary. As much as the narrative revolves around the Oilers being built off of high draft picks, it’s remarkable just how many of their defensemen have come from free agency (especially if you count Schultz) and trades. There isn’t much “homegrown” talent involved.
  • Improvement is indeed feasible. Andej Sekera is a possession darling, while Mark Fayne came in with some solid credentials last summer. Nurse could very well be a gem, as his draft status would indicate. People continue to await Schultz’s growth. Maybe most importantly, Todd McLellan is arguably the most qualified coach the Oilers have employed in a long time.

Of course, it remains to be seen if “improved” means much, as there was a significant gap between the Oilers and the NHL’s defensive elite. Schultz remains a microcosm once more, as both the player and the group are absolutely at the “put up or shut up” juncture heading into 2015-16.

Oilers sign Justin Schultz — one year, $3.9 million

Justin Schultz

The Edmonton Oilers will not be going to arbitration with defenseman Justin Schultz. The two sides have settled on a one-year deal worth $3.9 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Schultz, like many of his teammates, had his struggles last season. Though the 25-year-old had six goals and 25 assists in 81 games (his 31 points led all Edmonton d-men), defensively he remained a work in progress.

Case in point, Schultz was a healthy scratch for a game in November after making what former coach Dallas Eakins called a “mind-numbing” change that led to a goal against.

It’s hoped that a new coach in Todd McLellan, plus the addition of veteran defender Andrej Sekera, can help Schultz.

Only last summer, former GM Craig MacTavish opined that Schultz had “Norris Trophy potential.”

NHL releases arbitration dates

Derek Stepan

Per the players’ union, a quick look at the players (and teams) that have elected arbitration, and what dates they’re scheduled for. Italicized names with asterisks means deals have already been reached, nullifying the need for a hearing.


Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker * (signed one-year, $3.75M deal)
Phil Samuelsson – July 21, 2015
Brendan Shinnimin- July 20, 2015

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone* (signed one-year, $600,000 deal)

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma – July 22, 2015
Paul Byron – July 30, 2015
Josh Jooris – July 28, 2015

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino – July 20, 2015
Mathew Clark – July 22, 2015

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist * (signed four-year, $19M deal)

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula – July 31, 2015

Nashville Predators
Craig Smith – July 20, 2015
Colin Wilson – July 28, 2015

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas – July 21, 2015
Adam Larsson – July 29, 2015

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan – July 27, 2015

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson – July 23, 2015
Mike Hoffman – July 30, 2015

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto – July 21, 2015

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi *  (signed one-year, $700,000 deal)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Taylor Beck – July 24, 2015

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby – July 23, 2015
Marcus Johansson – July 29, 2015


Edmonton Oilers
Justin Schultz – July 24, 2015

Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier – July 31, 2015