Justin Schultz Could Sign With The Edmonton Oilers

Justin Schultz, the mobile, puck-moving defenseman taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of 2008, is in an interesting position. With his college season over, he’s welcome to sign with the team that drafted him, and by all accounts they’d love to get him under contract, and have him play for them in the NHL for the rest of this season.

However, if Schultz does not sign a contract with the Ducks, on June 1st the team loses his rights. We’ve seen this before with college players – the most notable recent example being 2004 5th overall pick Blake Wheeler, who refused to sign in Phoenix and instead joined the Boston Bruins. If Schultz chooses to go that route, which at this point is all but a certainty, he’ll virtually have license to pick his employer since all 30 NHL teams are reportedly hoping to land him.

According to hockey insider Bob McKenzie, the Edmonton Oilers have a real shot at being the team Schultz chooses. Asked on TSN’s “The Quiz” which team had the best chance at landing the young defenseman, McKenzie said this:

I’ll say the Edmonton Oilers, and we’re already breaking the Anaheim Ducks fans who still hope that he might turn out there; I don’t believe he’s going to be there. I’ll say the Edmonton Oilers. I think this Kelowna kid would be happy to play in Canada. I also think it would be great for him to grow old with guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall. He’s the missing piece of the puzzle in Edmonton, a power play quarterback.

McKenzie’s choice wasn’t unanimous; fellow panelists Aaron Ward and Marc Crawford chose Detroit and Toronto, respectively, as Schultz’s likeliest destination. It’s unclear what McKenzie is basing his assessment on, but as arguably the most connected man in hockey there’s no doubt that his statement last night is the basis for at least cautious optimism.