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.