NHL clubs ready to woo U.S. collegian Justin Schultz

Brian Burke returns from the NHL draft with a power forward he covets in James van Riemsdyk, six picks including first-rounder Morgan Rielly and perhaps a different view of the free-agent landscape.

In April, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager said he would address the team’s positional trades “the old fashioned way” through trades, not free agency.

But that could change Monday when U.S. collegiate defenceman Justin Schultz, a player Burke drafted in the second round in 2008 while GM of the Anaheim Ducks, becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Schultz, 21, and his representative, Newport Sports Management in Toronto, found a loophole in the soon-to-be-expired collective bargaining agreement that allows the player to test free agency because he played an extra year of major junior hockey in British Columbia Hockey League before attending the University of Wisconsin.

Schultz is considered an elite offensive defenceman who many observers believe could step into the NHL next season as a top-four blue-liner. He reportedly will be in Toronto on Tuesday and can begin to field offers Wednesday.

“The competition for Schultz will be every bit as intense as the competition for [unrestricted free agents Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise,” former NHL forward-turned broadcaster Ray Ferraro told a Canadian sports radio station recently.

Schultz is a six-foot-two, 185-pound right-handed shooting defenceman fresh off a strong season with the U. of Wisconsin Badgers in which he scored 16 goals and 44 points in 37 games.


55 Responses to NHL clubs ready to woo U.S. collegian Justin Schultz

  1. 93killer93 says:

    So after all that talk about Pavelec going to the KHL he signs for 5 years at 3.9mil.

  2. ZillyHoo says:

    Well, I think the reason Schultz didn’t want to play in Anaheim was because Gardiner got traded and Fowler was drafted there, so he wanted the top role, but maybe wanted to play with Gardiner?

    Would that make us the top runner for Schultz or what?

  3. LN91 says:

    Okay, I must admit…Maybe we did overreact about the draft since every analysist/scout seems to believe we had one of best drafts of all the teams.

    One thing, I did not know we drafted Ryan Rupert? Did anyone see the Memorial Cup final? Guy was a beast for London.

    I really really really like the JVR trade.

    • reinjosh says:

      Agreed. I’m still a little dubious on taking two 6 foot dman with our first two picks, but scouts seem to like Finn a lot and Reilly has some crazy upside.

      I really liked the Rupert pick. It was the one thing I saw and was happy to see we grabbed him. Plus we invited his bro for a tryout. Guy is the quinessential pest with skill.

      • Steven_Leafs0 says:

        the Finn pick I can see since he was the best player available and was a Toronto native. Win-win of a pick to me. I was thrown off guard by the Reilly pick, I was completely expecting Forsberg to be drafted (I cheered when the Islanders passed on him) but considering that 5 other GMs passed on him to pick defensemen I feel better about it.

        Obviously in the short term it will look like we missed the boat but who knows, maybe Reilly will be another Gardiner type asset to our team in a few seasons. Very happy with that if it happens.

  4. leafs_wallace93 says:

    If get Schultz and he lives up to epectations is Rielly expendable?

    A bit miffed at Burke openly saying ‘we’ll address positions the ol’fashion way through trades’ what an asshole, free agents are just that free in terms of sacrificing assets. So Toronto will never get something for nothing, being a Leafs fan is little more than an exercise in masochism.

    • mojo19 says:

      He’s gone back on that comment a bit and said they will look at free agents.

      I think that comment had more to with this years weak crop of free agents, and recent NHL trends of licking up younger players long term, not as many guys make it to July 1 anymore. Thanks to the cap partially, I imagine. Chara re-upped in Oct, but if there were no cap we might be waiting to see the Leafs, Rangers, and Red Wings gearing up with $10-12 million per season offers. Instead he re-signed at a reasonable price long ago. I miss 2002.

  5. mojo19 says:

    “Luongo is obviously great, he made the cup final!” Michael Leighton by that logic is as good, maybe we should get him. And all Luongo supporters who use the “trip to Cup final” argument must concede that Niemi is better because he won, and we don’t use discretion when evaluating goalies, we only look at their resume. If you disagree that Niemi is better then don’t ever argue that bullshit cup final garbage again.

    For the record, even though it was an example to prove a point, I do think Niemi is more solid, slightly.

    • Steven_Leafs0 says:

      ok ignore the cup final then, his stats are still solid, and the fact that Vancouver finished 1st (or high) in the West are great tools for evaluating goalies. Maybe some weaker names had similar stats for a season or 2 but Luongo kept those stats consistent for 7 years.

      • mojo19 says:

        I don’t disagree, and I think he was an even better goalie for the Panthers, despite the lack of team success. He has been a really good goalie in the league for a long time. My warning to you is that his play has noticeably slipped over the last year and a half. Could he get it back on track and play good hockey for a couple of seasons? Maybe even 3 or 4? Sure, its possible, wouldn’t bank on it but its possible. But at the end of the day it doesn’t bring us closer to a cup, and we’ll be looking to dump that contract by the time we get close.

        You can disagree if you want, but don’t get too pumped about Luongo, he won’t transform this team.

        • Steven_Leafs0 says:

          “But at the end of the day it doesn’t bring us closer to a cup,”

          that comment is wrong. Maybe Toronto is unlikely to win a cup even with Luongo (it is the Stanley Cup, one of the hardest sports prizes to win) but we are definitely closer with him in net. If he can bring to Toronto similar GAA / Sv% that he brought to Vancouver (no real reason he wouldn’t) then Toronto is definitely a playoff team. And a playoff team is a cup contender… if we learned anything from LA.

          I’m not saying Luongo is a no-risk move (no player is) but he is the best option out there. A guy like Biron won’t get it done, I like Reimer but he isn’t ready to start 60 games and lead us into the playoffs, and guys like Schneider, Backstrom, Thomas, etc are not available.

          • mojo19 says:

            Then, let’s just wait a year and see who becomes available. If Luongo is the best option available (he’s not… but for arguments sake lets say he is) then we might as well wait for a better option.

            You’re talking about a guy who is prone to let in those heart breakers, those goals from the corners, from behind the net, kicking out big rebounds on point shots and falling forward. He’s not pretty, and its hidden behind a good team.

            • mojo19 says:

              Have you really watched him play at all, or are you basing this on… what? I really don’t know. If you’ve watched him play and payed any attention at all to what’s gone on in Vancouver the last year then I don’t know how you can defend Roberto’s play. Don’t be blinded by the numbers. Toskala posted great numbers before he got here too, its amazing what a great team can do for a goalie.

              • mojo19 says:

                To me Steve, and you would probably disagree, but dealing for Luongo would be the equivalent of signing 33 year old Olli Jokinen to 7 or 8 year deal to solve our 1st line centre situation. He’s still productive and will do an adequate job for a year or two but then it would just be like “how many more years do we have to put up with this declining veteran?”

  6. mojo19 says:

    “With Gardiner up, and with 3 high end prospects in Rielly, Percy, and Finn on the way I’m not so sure we need Schultz.”

    Wrong. Wondering where Schultz will “fit in” if we get him? Who cares. Were not a team on the cusp looking to add that final piece. At this stage of the rebuild we need to take talent, especially young whenever its available, and let the depth charts sort themselves out at camp and through time.

    This also ties in with the Rielly and Finn picks and how they don’t fill immediate needs, but our scouts determined them to be the best talent available. Gardiner is very promising, looks like the real deal, as for the other 3 (and throw Blacker into the mix) its all up in the air. There’s a good chance one or two (or God forbid all) of these guys will bust, but having the cupboards fully stocked increases our odds of one or two (or God willing all) of these guys to pan out. Once these players do start to develop, and their reputations grow, their experience grows, so grows their trade value.

    I’ve heard a lot of Leaf fans say “we don’t want too many offensive dmen” but if they start panning out, we have some serious trade bait. You think Gardiners value is high now? Imagine 3 years from now Rielly busts onto the scene and we have two! Now we’ve got options, we can run with two killer puck movers, or deal one for other needs when the value is way up (Doughty, J.Johnson = J.Carter)

    • reinjosh says:

      Reilly missed two-thirds of a season. He’s not going to be on the team, so he shouldn’t have any bearing on our desire to get Schultz. Same with Finn and Percy. Neither will be making the team and will stay in the OHL for the time being.

      I still think defense could be a problem with Gardiner/Schultz, Franson/Liles as two/thirds of our defense but I’m not going to turn down Schultz. I saw an interesting point made. How much defense will they really play if they dominate on the puck possession game?

      • blaze says:

        The dominate pick possession doesn’t carry as much weight with me. No matter how skilled thy will still spend considerable time in their end. That puck possession only it’s hand and hand with the forwards if the forwards can sustain pressure in the O zone there will be constant counter attack constant defending constant forecheck in those small dmens corners regardless of how slick with the puck they are.

        They still need dman to PK 2 units. Remember how atrocious the PK was? Well they need 4 dmen. They may be slick but that unit could be pushed around by big teams.

        • mojo19 says:

          To Blazes point, this is why we need at least a couple big forwards, even those who can’t skate well, because we need to develop a cycle game and hem some teams in their own end.

  7. mojo19 says:

    Also, keeping my above comments in mind, I hope more of you will agree that a long term plan should be priority, and that tying in with Roberto doesn’t make sense. Were not winning the cup this year or next, and we’ll be trying to dump his contract and cap hit by the time were competitive, say 3 seasons from now. I would like to see us take a big step forward this year and make the playoffs, God knows were overdue, but not by landing Lu, roll the dice on Reimer and get a vet to help out, short term. Were gonna want the flexibility in a year or two, no more short sighted moves.

    • mojo19 says:

      For this reason Vokoun would’ve been a good fit but Burke didn’t wanna go 2 years. He’s trying to find that perfect fit, but it might not be there. Tim Thomas has a year and would be ideal for me because he’s a top 3 or 4 goalie in the league and has a year on his deal. If Reimer shows promise we just bought him another year to work on his craft and the starters spot will be waiting. If we were to get Lu that option would not be there.

      • Steven_Leafs0 says:

        I would disagree, I don’t think that Vokoun gives us a solid cup chance and if all we are doing is rebuilding and putting in a stop gap until Reimer develops why not just play Reimer 50-60 games and let him have the ice time.

        Also I think Luongo would definitely make us competitive not only in the short term (1-2 years) but potentially in the longer term (3-5 years). Also look at LA, they squeaked in the playoffs and with solid goaltending they won it all. Obviously we don’t have the team LA did but we are getting closer day by day.

        Kessel/Kopitar (points production, not center)
        Gardiner/Doughty (not close but you get the point)

        we are just missing the big center really.

        • You really stretched far for that, didn’t you?

        • mojo19 says:

          Well Steve, I hear what you’re saying, but the Vokoun thing would’ve been nice insurance. Playing Reimer 50-60 games is ideal for me, but if he happens to go through struggles it would be nice to have a solid veteran on a short term, reasonable contract to take the load off of Reimer this year, and then have some flexibility to re-evaluate the position going forward.

          If we get Lu, that’s it. Its Lu for at least the next few years before we can bury him. They aren’t going to get Lu with 10 years left on his deal and bury him with 9 left. Getting a guy on a short term gives us flexibility and if circumstances change a year from now we can have a bit of leeway. Lu is available right now, who knows who might be available next year? And who knows what the state of the team will be at this point next year? We might be closer to competing for a cup, or we might still be a ways away. So why handcuff yourself?

          Ya dig?

  8. mojo19 says:

    Also, I want Peter Mueller. He’s going ufa after no qualifying offer, but I remember him tearing it up before his concussions. Could be a good Lupul-esque gamble.

    • nordiques100 says:

      it definitely is worth a gamble. and, he is American and we know BB favors those over others.

      • JoelLeafs says:

        How do you figure? He brought in Americans because they were available but he seems to prefer drafting Canadian kids.

        • reinjosh says:

          I don’t think Burke favors any particular nation over another. He just prefers a specific attitude or gameplay and it’s commonly one that is associated with Canadians and Americans.

          Also drafting has more to do with his scouts than with Burke himself. It’s the reason we almost always select a Swede. Thommie Bergman has a lot of say and gets to get at least one pick a draft.

    • reinjosh says:

      I actually came on here to post this.

      He’s had his injury troubles but the guy is still under 25 and has shown some insane skill. Plus he’s big. He’s 6 foot 2 and 205 or 210 depending on where he’s listed.

      Guess what everyone says we need? A big center. Guess what Mueller is?

      I’d take the chance.

      • JoelLeafs says:

        Definitely worth the shot. Think he’d entertain a 2-way? I get the feeling there will be some interest in him, but I doubt too many teams will be willing to take a chance and give a roster spot to the guy, that year off really burned his stock.

        1-way 1 year 1-1.5 mil
        2-way 2 year 1.5 per

        • reinjosh says:

          I wouldn’t even bother with a two way deal. He’s clearly an NHL player when he’s healthy. Offering a two-way deal would almost certainly be considered an insult.

          I can’t see him getting many interested teams. I think you’re right on his injuries hurting his chances. I think 1 or 2 year deals would be the best he gets.

          It would fall to teams who don’t expect to do much or teams who would be willing to take the risk. Toronto I think could fall under that. The payoff is certainly pretty big.

          I’d think Calgary might be interested. Having him partner with Iggy could be interesting.

          • mojo19 says:

            1 year, $2.5-3 million. Let’s not cheap out and offer him $1.25 million so that some other team can come along and offer a bit more and get the opportunity to grab a potential steal. It’s only an extra mil or so, why let him get away?

        • Steven_Leafs0 says:

          A 2-way deal is pointless in this case. Mueller would have to be waived to be sent to the minors even with a 2-way deal so why bother? Sign him one-year if he works then awesome, if not then waive him. No loss there.

  9. reinjosh says:

    For those of you that think Burke doesn’t make attempts to go for the offensive player (and yes I’m thinking of one person in particular).

    If the JVR move didn’t give you some notion of that, then this ought to.


    Thought 17. Toronto was one of the 5 legit suitors for Staal.

    • nordiques100 says:

      Using CBC links to defend Burke. Isnt that a bit of an oxymoron considering they could use some content control? LOL

      • reinjosh says:

        Haha clever comment.

        And more pointing out a factual error in someone’s “theories”.

        I’ve actually become quite disillusioned with Burke. I’d much rather have Nonis step up and take over. I’ve wanted that for a while actually. To be honest, I’m not sure Burke does entirely that much anymore anyways. He’s fond of saying Nonis does nearly all the day-to-day stuff. Nonis is quite readily give public credit for the Franson and Phaneuf deals. Loiselle and Nonis seem to be talking to the media more often than ever before. Morrison seems to have almost unfettered control of scouting.

        Really what does he do? The yearly quota filling Anaheim-Toronto swap? At this point I think he’s a figurehead to take pressure off the team and I’m not sure he’s even doing that great a job at it.

        I like the guy but I just don’t think he does much anymore.

        • nordiques100 says:

          Well he has some interesting choices upcoming.

          He made a fine trade for JVR. But I’m interested to see how he follows up. That’s been his problem here.

          I think with many being fairly receptive to this deal, I feel Burke at times just gets too comfortable and settles for that. And we fall into a trance supporting him.

          He’s so far away from having a playoff team that if he does nothing, and him rounding out the roster with Phillip dupuis types does constitute nothing, well he’s failed us again.

          But even a pessimist like me will give him a chance since the work so far has the resemblance of a plan.

          But I just hope he realizes how far he has to go. A centre, massive grit, heart, leadership additions, goal, he isn’t done.

          But we’ve seen, after kessel was acquired, after dion, there’s been nothing that seemingly makes sense. Maybe it was Wilson, maybe Carlyle has his ear this time, I can only hope it’ll b different.

          But as uve read here, ppl already are thinking Mac, bozak can handle the dirty roles. I really am praying BB doesn’t see it that way.

          • mojo19 says:

            I really don’t think he’s going to get “that” centre this offseason, unfortunately. I think he may make a move like signing Mueller, or maybe moving Connolly or Lombardi, or Armstrong for some malcontent from another team, who winds up on our 3rd line. But I don’t know if the options are necessarily out there.

            Still, if he can add another couple of pieces this off season I would be willing to wait for the big centre.

            Couple of scenario’s could include some of next summer’s UFA’s, and the contract talks that will exist with their current clubs throughout the year. A player such as Getzlaf for example may wind up indicating he wants out and start to be shopped by mid season, especially if the Ducks are out of the playoff picture towards the deadline.

            • nordiques100 says:

              One option I have thought of is to trade Kessel for Nash.

              Honestly, with Lupul, Nash, JVR and Kulemin, you have 4 very big wingers. That could help mask them having a tiny centre.

              heck, even Kadri could go back playing centre with any of those wingers. Or they could get even bigger adding Colborne to the mix.

              Or JVR with Lupul and Nash would be 3 monsters on 1 line that could be super hard to contain.

              Its a look Toronto hasnt seen in years. And that kind of size is probably what is going to fit better in Carlyle’s system.

              • mojo19 says:

                Kessel for Nash I would love. I really like Kessel, and he has a great skill set, uses his speed to give himself some room and then has a great shot. But Rick Nash brings so much more to the table because he’s such a beast. He walks out of the corners and drives the net. He hits, scores, does it all, and he’s the type of guy who would thrive under Carlyle.

                • LN91 says:

                  Watch JVR use his body more in Toronto.

                  I believe this will occur since Carlyle had such a big influence on Correy Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, and Ryan.

                  It’s rare that you don’t see his players a bit agressive and no doubt JVR still has the potential to move from second-line player to first-line power forward.

                  • mojo19 says:

                    Ya, we even started to see evidence of the Carlyle effect right away last year, I felt like the guys were playing with a little bit more of an edge, and obviously dropping the gloves a lot more.

                    Give Randy some time to get his game plan, and his systems in effect in camp and I think we’re gonna see a lot of our players playing with more of an edge.

  10. mojo19 says:

    Oh ya, forgot to mention way to go Mats!!!! FIRST BALLOT HALL OF FAMER!!!

    27th in All-Time NHL scoring.
    1st in All-Time Overtime Goals.
    Leading scorer at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
    Captained Sweden to Olympic Gold in 2006, Turin.
    All-Time leading scorer in Toronto Maple Leafs franchise history, points and goals.

    Never won a Stanley Cup, although, in his prime and while the Leafs were competitive between 1995-2004 (post lockout the Leafs were brutal and he still carried them on his back and got us close to the playoffs) The Stanley Cup was passed around between three teams New Jersey (’95, ’00, ’03), Colorado (’96, ’01), and Detroit (’97, ’98, ’02), with the Stars winning in ’99 and the Bolts in ’04. The Leafs actually won more playoff rounds from 1999-2004 than any teams besides Detroit and New Jersey, so Sundin’s teams did pretty well, although we always fell short of the ultimate prize. Hard to blame Mats for that though.

    As for the whole Shanahan thing. I think he will get in, and he wasn’t as good a player as Sakic and Sundin. Obviously, knowing what we know now, if you could go back in team and build your team around Mats or Shanny 9 out of 10 people would choose Mats. The Stanley Cup argument is thrown out because it’s a team accomplishment. Does anyone believe Dustin Brown to be a better player right now than Ovechkin? Maybe there are some out there who do, just as some will debate Shanny is better than Mats, but I believe the overwhelming majority would side with Mats Sundin. Obviously the Hall of Fame committee would agree.

    • LN91 says:

      It’s really sad…Put Mats on this squad now (in the form of his Toronto days) and LOOK OUT.

      I think Eklund is right when he says that Sundin will go down as the greatest Leaf ever. He did not win a cup, but he really changed the complexion of the franchise during his tenure and made hockey exciting.

      He revolutionalize the term ‘power forward/big center’ for sure.

      • mojo19 says:

        And the clutch goals late in games really set him apart from other superstars of his day. He had that ability with the game on the line to rise up to that next level and score that big goal.

        Also, his consistency was unreal. Excluding his rookie year, the half lockout in ’94 shortened season, and his half year in Vancouver, his lowest career point total was 72 (in 75 games). Even as an old veteran, his final year with the Leafs he posted 78 points in 74 games.

        • reinjosh says:

          He was simply one of the best players in the low scoring era of the 90’s and early 2000’s. He was amazing. He’s never going to get the credit he deserves because he never got a cup and didn’t have anyone playing with him to push him from a 70ish 80 point player to a perrenial 90 point player.

          I still remember him finishing a hat trick in overtime while short handed to get his 500th goal. Probably one of the most epic ways to hit a milestone.

  11. ZillyHoo says:

    Burke built a team for Wilson, Wilson failed.

    Now Burke is starting to build a team for Carlyle, slowly it’ll show. In Anaheim Carlyle had some rush D-guys in Fowler and Visnowsky. Maybe Burke is getting tons of rush D because that’s the way Carlyle likes to have his offense play? Gritty upfront, speed and maneuvering on the blue line. Who knows right?

    I think Burke should move Lupul or Kessel. I don’t think they succeed in Carlyle’s system (especially Lupul seeing as how his relationship with the coach is).

    • mojo19 says:

      One year to load up for a playoff run the Ducks even picked up Marc-Andre Bergeron, a pure offensive d-man, I think Carlyle likes to have a couple mobile d-men kicking around. More proof is that Burke went out and spent big money on Matthieu Schneider when Niedermayer’s return/retirement was up in the air.

  12. LN91 says:

    He’s a verteran and under contract for 1 more season, but I think a perfect defensive/veteran player for this young unit is Rob Scuderi.

    He’s made sucha big impact to the D of both Pitt and LAK during his tenure, rarely makes a mistake, warrior, and knows how to win.

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