After adding a former rival for cheap in Henrik Lundqvist, the Capitals continued that trend in a more puzzling way by signing defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8M deal.
Capitals sign Justin Schultz to two-year, $8M deal
So, this contract means that Schultz, 30, carries a $4M AAV through 2021-22. It doesn’t sound like there’s a no-trade or no-movement clause for Schultz, if you’re wondering about expansion draft implications.
One larger trend that surfaces is that the Capitals don’t exactly have the youngest defense. Schultz, John Carlson, Michal Kempny, and Nick Jensen are all 30. Recently extended Brenden Dillon is 29, as is Dmitry Orlov.
Zooming back into Schultz, the blueliner’s dealt with worrisome injury issues, and really saw his game fall off during the last few seasons. After proving to be a nice fit once traded to the Penguins in a sheltered situation that really benefited his game, Schultz slipped. A lot of his underlying numbers are very troubling.
Also troubling: maybe his offensive impact isn’t as good as we might think?
Justin Schultz (2x4m with Washington) is simply inexplicable to me. pic.twitter.com/wXJaNb0FCt
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 9, 2020
That said, maybe the Capitals have a specific role in mind. One would think that work on the power play might be one of Schultz’s selling points, but Carlson has that covered.
Maybe it’s all about the transition game? Perhaps new head coach Peter Laviolette is a big fan?
The Washington Capitals sign Justin Schultz to a 2-year deal per @DarrenDreger. Fit is a big part of any signing and Schultz should fit well with how the #ALLCAPS play. He makes a great first pass and the Caps use the stretch pass out of the defensive zone more than any team. pic.twitter.com/7iEb7bDKHg
— The Point (@ThePointHockey) October 9, 2020
Look, maybe this can work out. I personally didn’t expect much from Schultz when the Oilers traded him to the Penguins, and he ended up being a pleasant surprise for Pittsburgh.
Heading into 2020 NHL Free Agency, I expected Schultz to get something like a fellow (but superior) double-edged sword defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk received during the 2019 off-season. Instead, the Capitals signed Schultz for a deal not that far off what Shattenkirk (reportedly) received this off-season.
We’ll see, but again, I find it a bit perplexing that the Capitals gave him a pretty robust deal with some term.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.