Justin Schultz

Report: Justin Schultz to be healthy scratch versus Preds


A “mind-numbing” change that led to a goal Tuesday in Dallas has reportedly landed Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz in the press box for tonight’s game in Nashville.

That was the phrase Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins used to describe the long second-period change, at least.

“I don’t even know what to say about it,” an angry Eakins uttered following the 3-2 loss, the Oilers’ seventh straight defeat. “It’s mind-numbing that at this level we would try to change there.”

Here’s the goal, by Tyler Seguin:

Of course, it’s not just that one change that has Schultz in Eakins’ doghouse. The 24-year-old’s defensive play has been increasingly criticized as the Oilers’ struggles have worsened.

You may recall that, in August, GM Craig MacTavish said Schultz had “Norris Trophy potential.” Hence, the significance of tonight’s healthy scratching of a player that’s appeared in all 22 games this season and leads the team in ice time.

Yesterday, the Oilers called up d-man Oscar Klefbom from the AHL. At the time, the move raised some eyebrows, with some wondering if a trade was imminent. But now we know that’s not the case.

Well, not yet anyway.

Related: Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting

Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win!


The Edmonton Oilers have been an easy target for criticism early in this NHL season.

But on Monday, not only did they get their first win of the season, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, expected to be one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference, by a final score of 3-2, but they showed some resolve when needed.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the winner with 3:25 remaining in regulation. From a prime spot, he snapped a wrist shot past Ben Bishop for his first goal of the season.

Timing is everything.

Not only that, but the goal came less than three minutes after the Lightning and Brett Connolly tied the game at 2-2. At their worst last week, allowing 13 goals combined in two games against L.A. and Arizona, the Oilers couldn’t defend and couldn’t get quality goaltending.

Heck, even after the first game, a disgruntled fan tossed an Oilers jersey on to the ice following an Edmonton loss.

Despite a more improved effort, the Oilers still lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, resulting in their worst start in franchise history. With the Lightning in town, it looked like it could get much worse.

But after giving up the first goal early in the second period, Edmonton began to claw back.

Justin Schultz evened the score and then Taylor Hall, dangerous for most of the night, was rewarded with a penalty shot in the second period and he made no mistake with a sweet deke to the backhand.

For the Lightning, Jonathan Drouin made his highly anticipated NHL debut, and Ryan Callahan left the game after the second period with a lower-body injury.

The only NHL team without a win this season: The Carolina Hurricanes.

Nuge, Eberle and Petry out for Oilers; Nurse, Yakimov to make NHL debuts vs. L.A. (Update: Petry’s a healthy scratch)

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Big lineup changes in Los Angeles tonight as the Oilers look for their first win of the season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Jeff Petry are all sidelined with injuries, paving the way for two of Edmonton’s top picks from the 2013 draft — Darnell Nurse (seventh overall) and Bogdan Yakimov (83rd) — to make their NHL debuts.

Nurse, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, has been with the Oilers since training camp but has yet to play a regular-season game. Yakimov was called up from AHL Oklahoma City after Edmonton’s rough-and-tumble shootout loss to the Canucks on Saturday.

It’s unclear exactly what’s ailing Eberle, Petry and Nugent-Hopkins. “Multiple bang ups,” is how head coach Dallas Eakins described their conditions, per the Edmonton Sun; there was some speculation that Nugent-Hopkins injured himself in his first-ever NHL fight against Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis, but Eakins shot that down.

As you’d expect from such a significant roster shuffle, the ins and outs have altered Edmonton’s lines. Here’s what the Oilers rushed at this morning’s skate:

Taylor Hall-Mark Arcobello-Teddy Purcell

David Perron-Yakimov-Jesse Joensuu

Benoit Pouliot-Leon Draisaitl-Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks-Boyd Gordon-Will Acton

Nurse, meanwhile, is likely to be paired with Justin Schultz on defense.

UPDATE: Well, this is interesting — per TSN, Petry, who last year finished second among all Edmonton d-men in TOI per game, is a healthy scratch for tonight’s game.

Related: Gaborik hurt, out vs. Oilers as banged-up Kings lose another

With training camps looming, a look at some key unsigned RFAs


Potential holdouts, anyone? Here’s your primer for all the talented youngsters than remain unsigned into September…

Ryan Johansen, Columbus

The most talked about of the group, Johansen’s currently embroiled in a contract stalemate that could result with him missing training camp. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s on record saying he doesn’t want the 22-year-old to miss any camp time (“It’s very, very important that we start as a team,” he told the Dispatch) but at this point, there’s a reported $3-$3.5M gap between what the club is offering and what Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is asking for.

Both sides have a decent amount of leverage. Columbus will argue that Johansen only has one quality NHL campaign on his resume, doesn’t have arbitration rights and has yet to receive an offer sheet from another club. The Johansen camp will counter that last year’s effort was much more than a quality campaign (he finished 11th in the NHL with goals, 33, and was the team’s most important player not named Sergei Bobrovsky.) Overhardt could also use the Jackets’ success against them — the club is coming off the best season in franchise history. Do they really want to kill that momentum by playing hardball with their brightest young star?

Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, Boston

Both players have fallen victim — thus far — to the Bruins’ ugly cap situation, explained here by the Boston Globe:

The Bruins are in a jam. They have approximately $69 million committed toward 2014-15. This includes Marc Savard’s $4,027,143 annual cap hit and roughly $4.75 million in overage penalties (bonuses achieved last year by Jarome Iginla, Torey Krug, and Dougie Hamilton) they must apply toward their number.

By opening night, they will use the long-term injury exception on Savard to exceed the cap by his average annual value. But even when accounting for that deletion, the Bruins have little breathing room to re-sign Krug and Reilly Smith.

It would be possible to re-up Krug and Smith without moving salary; it would not be preferable. Management would have close to zero roster flexibility to trade or sign players or carry extra bodies.

A trade, therefore, is coming.

Neither Krug nor Smith have suggested they’d hold out of camp but, earlier this summer, reports surfaced of Krug getting a “big” offer from a KHL club.

Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has a tricky situation on his hands — he must deal with this year’s RFAs while keeping an eye on next year’s class, which will include the likes of Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula. As such, Fletcher has repeatedly stressed the importance of making the “right deal” for Niederreiter and Kuemper, and it sounds as though the latter is looking for a bigger (or, better) deal than the one Minnesota is offering.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” Fletcher told the Star-Tribune earlier this month. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”

That said, it doesn’t sound like the Wild are anticipating Kuemper to miss significant training camp/preseason time, as head coach Mike Yeo already said Kuemper would play one of Minnesota’s first three exhibition games.

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis

Very quiet on this front lately. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has a reputation for dragging out RFA negotiations (see: Alex Pietrangelo) and playing hardball — just ask the Vladimir Sobotka camp. That said, the Blues do have approximately $2.7M in available cap space and a bit of roster flexibility, so the pieces are in place to get a deal done by the time training camp starts.

Tyson Barrie, Colorado

Many pundits figured the blueprint for Barrie’s new deal came last week, when Edmonton signed offensive defenseman Justin Schultz to a one-year, $3.675M contract. But that blueprint might not have looked like the one Colorado originally drew up — per the Denver Post, the Avs were reportedly looking at a deal that would pay Barrie $2.4-$3.5 million next season.

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit

In terms of value to his team, DeKeyser is right up there with Johansen in Columbus — the 24-year-old rearguard averaged 21:38 TOI for the Wings last year (upped to over 23 minutes per night in the playoffs) and scored 23 points in 65 games. But I sort of buried him in this piece because his new deal in Detroit is fait accompli — DeKeyser said he wants to be in Detroit and has no worries about a deal getting done, and GM Ken Holland has re-iterated most of the same.


Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin remain unsigned in Dallas, but it’s important to remember that Stars GM Jim Nill came from the Detroit organization, where RFA deals often lingered right up until the start of training camp… Nashville and Ryan Ellis sound as though they’re still a ways apart on a new deal…The Rangers, who are approximately $1.5M away from the salary cap ceiling, still need to get something done with defenseman John Moore… Anaheim is still working on a contract for forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who had a fantastic postseason and led the team in playoff goals, with five.

Columnist: Schultz deal might complicate Avs’ talks with RFA Barrie


Defenseman Tyson Barrie might have been very happy when the news broke that Justin Schultz had agreed to a one-year, $3.657 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

Barrie, who remains a restricted free agent, is in a similar position with the Colorado Avalanche in the sense that he’s an offensive defenseman who is coming off of his entry-level deal and is likely to end up with a bridge contract. Barrie and Schultz have put up similar career numbers in terms of goals and points.

Mike Chambers of the Denver Post previously felt that Barrie’s contract would be in the range of $2.4 million to $3.5 million annually, but he’s re-evaluating those figures in light of what Schultz got.

Colorado has roughly $4.3 million in cap space, per Cap Geek, so a fear of exceeding the ceiling isn’t likely to prevent the Avalanche from re-signing him. At the same time, Colorado has previously talked about its desire to maintain a structure that leaves the team with enough flexibility to make moves over the course of the campaign.

Meanwhile, the start of training camp is less than three weeks away.


Sakic on RFA Barrie: ‘I’m confident he’ll be here’