Upon announcing the Edmonton Oilers’ compromise of a one-year deal with Justin Schultz, GM Craig MacTavish didn’t mince words: he stated his belief that the 24-year-old defenseman could win a Norris Trophy one day.
Even Schultz wants to dial those expectations down a notch – at least for now – according to his statements to the Edmonton Journal from Friday.
“I like that he (MacTavish) thinks so highly of me, and I do want to win the Norris Trophy one day … but it’s early, and I still have a lot to prove,” Schultz said.
That’s especially true among stats-leaning Oilers observers, as his possession numbers aren’t as pretty as his offensive stats can be.
More than anything else, many believe that the Oilers got the wrong end of the negotiating session by handing Schultz a $3.675 million while failing to get long-term savings being that the two sides would have to hammer out another contract for 2015-16 and beyond (or watch him walk).
Oilers Nation rolls out a rather unsettling review of the one-year pact:
The Oilers here have managed to get the negatives of a bridge deal without the payoffs. They get the minimum amount of extra information possible – one year’s worth. There’s no bargain here; Schultz is being paid basically the same amount of money that Jake Gardiner took on a long-term deal despite an NHL career that isn’t any better. And a year from now if all goes according to plan the Oilers will be in a lousy bargaining position for a long-term deal.
One discouraging trend for Edmonton is that the Oilers rarely seem to sign players to bargain contracts. Despite a lengthy playoff drought, the Oilers’ $64.82 million payroll currently ranks 13th in the NHL. The Oilers made refreshingly reasonable additions this summer, but paying Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Benoit Pouliot more than $12 million combined is an overpay by most standards.
Big seasons from Schultz and/or Nail Yakupov could make it difficult for management to add complimentary players even if their much-ballyhooed core finally lives up to the hype.
Could Schultz mature into the star the Oilers are hoping for? It’s certainly possible … but it sounds like he’ll be costly one way or another.