Look at that: Justin Schultz, months removed from being booed by Edmonton Oilers fans as an Edmonton Oiler, raising the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Unlikely as that was, that image was the best-case scenario for the Penguins and Schultz when Pittsburgh made that “Eh, let’s give it a shot” trade with Edmonton.
The “What happens after 2015-16?” question was left blank. In all honesty, the Penguins were probably pretty comfortable with the idea of Schultz being a pure rental.
Maybe that idea stings a bit more in June than it did in March, yet that still appears to be the case:
Simply put, the Penguins sheltered Schultz, which was fine when the Oilers were paying part of his salary.
As a team that repeatedly battles with the salary cap ceiling, it’s tough to imagine the Penguins forking over anything close to the $3.9 million cap hit Schultz generated with his most recent deal.
Considering how desperate NHL teams get when it comes to securing defenseman – especially ones with Stanley Cup rings – it’s plausible that some other GM will ignore a few red flags and pay Schultz near or even above that level. Especially if said executive hopes to emulate the Penguins’ hard-charging style.
Sometimes this really does come down to pure business … and hey, the Schultz – Penguins relationship was pretty fruitful while it lasted.