Vancouver Canucks: Oilers D Justin Schultz on the Market

Dec 21, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Justin Schultz (19) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Justin Schultz (19) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are struggling defensively, and the Oilers happen to have a defenceman they are trying to get rid of.

Can the Vancouver Canucks defence be saved by Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers? The short answer seems to be “certainly not.” But what about the long answer?

Back in 2012, Schultz, the Anaheim Ducks’ second-round pick of 2008, decided to use a liitle loophole in the CBA that allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent instead of signing with the Ducks. He was said to be the best NCAA blueliner out there, having recorded 91 points in 106 games over the course of his final two college seasons.

Unsurprisingly, there was a long list of teams that wanted to sign him, reportedly including the Edmonton Oilers, the Minnesota Wild, the New York Rangers, the Ottawa Senators, the Toronto Maple Leafs and, of course, the Vancouver Canucks.

As we all know by now, Schultz decided to join the Oilers. The club was hoping Schultz could be the missing piece on defence, while Schultz himself probably expected to get Edmonton back to the playoffs as well. Unfortunately, the Oilers are still far away from the playoffs four years later, and Schultz has become expandable. In fact, fans are starting to get excited about the news of him possibly being on the market.

How did that happen? An article from SBNation’s Copper & Blue from earlier this month gives us some insight.

"1. Since joining the NHL in 2012 Justin Schultz has been the most-watched Oilers’ skater seeing 5089:23 minutes of ice time. This makes him the 36th most watched skater in the league. The second most watched Oilers’ skater has been Ryan Nugent-Hopkinswith 4719:50 minutes. Schultz has played 370 more minutes or 6.16 more entire games than RNH since 2012 and has received minutes similar to Mark Giordano (5137:40) andFrancois Beauchemin (5132:00).2. Schultz has been on-ice for 246 goals against during his NHL career. This ranks him 27th for goals against (defenders) over the same period and places him in the company ofAndrei Markov (246), Victor Hedman (246), P.K. Subban (244), and Dustin Byfuglien(247). Unlike those players Schultz doesn’t have a positive goal differential, with +/- of -10. During this same period P.K. Subban has had a +/- of +126.3. Over the past four seasons Schultz has seen 680:27 minutes on the power play, ranking him 19th in the league. He has had more power play minutes than Kris Letang (674:48). On the power play he’s scored 5 times ranking him 61st. This translates into 0.44 goals per hour, 122nd for defenders. His power play shooting percentage is 5.21% ranking him 116th.5. Schultz has been on ice for 1091 High-Danger Scoring Chances against, more than any other Oilers defender since 2012. Second to Schultz is Jeff Petry with 910 High-Danger Scoring Chances against.6. Schultz has been hit 375 times during the course of his play with Edmonton. That’s 103 times more than Jeff Petry. During this time Schultz has hit players 106 times, giving him +/- hit differential of -269, by far worst on the Oilers and 12th worst in the league over this period."

Wow. That is indeed some terrible stuff. But does it mean he couldn’t help the Canucks?

In Edmonton, Schultz is playing top-pairing minutes. An easy fix to the problem: put him on the second or third pairing.

Schultz has a lot of offensive skill. In 239 NHL games, the Kelowna native has 28 goals and 100 points. He does, however, struggle in the defensive zone, as quoted above.

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As you can see in Schultz’s HERO chart, most of his stats are at least top-four level. His goals per 60 and primary points per 60 are even top-pairing level. Only his defensive stats, especially the Corsi Against per 60 don’t look great. Not great, but still acceptable.

As of today, the only right-handed Canucks D-man signed through next season is Christopher Tanev. Schultz could easily slot in behind him. Alternatively, Vancouver could put him on the third pairing and find someone else for the top four. As long as Schultz isn’t forced to play top-line minutes anymore, he should be able to do a decent job on both sides of the rink.

Now, what would he cost?

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This is an interesting question that no one can answer right now. Schultz is a restricted free agent who currently has a cap hit of $3.9 million. Does he deserve that? Does he want more? Would he be willing to sign for less? Only he and his agent know.

At the end of the day, it will come down to what teams are willing to pay. History has shown that there can be big differences in the amounts GMs are willing to pay for a player.

Since he is a restricted free agent the Oilers seem to be trying to get rid of right now, the Canucks would also have to give something up to acquire him via trade — not knowing what kind of money he will ask for in the summer.

Edmonton has a stacked pool of young, talented players, even on defence. Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart, Oscar Klefboom and Brandon Davidson should all be around for the future. So, would they even be interested in draft picks anymore? If not, does Vancouver have an expendable player who could be a good fit in Vancouver? Who knows.

Next: 5 Early Draft Targets for Vancouver

All we do know at this point is this: Justin Schultz is a local boy. He is only 25 years old and still has his prime ahead of him. He is a great offensive player. A change of scenery could help him turn it around defensively too.

Can he solidify Vancouver’s blue line? Who knows. But the Canucks should certainly inquire about him.

What do you think? Would Justin Schultz be a good fit for the Vancouver Canucks? What would you give up to get him? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter @FSTheCanuckWay!