Top prospect Schultz set to leave school

Now the clock has been set on the Ducks and their ability to reel in their big fish.

TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported on his Twitter account Friday that prized Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz has filed paperwork to leave school with the intention of turning pro.

It means that the Ducks now have a 30-day exclusivity window to negotiate with Schultz in the hopes of getting their 2008 second-round draft pick under contract. The club is expected to begin discussions with his representatives shortly.

The rumor mill has been churning about Schultz’s ultimate destination for months because he has the option of waiting until July 1 to become a free agent and sign with any team because of a loophole in the current collective bargaining agreement.

Many have speculated that Schultz will forgo the Ducks and look elsewhere. The club is steadfast in its belief that he will ultimately choose Anaheim, having left the junior to fulfill his wish of completing his spring semester of studies in Madison.

Ducks GM Bob Murray told the Register earlier this month that he has had regular contact with Schultz’s advisor, Wade Arnott, and was hopeful to know more about the defenseman’s future plans. Arnott would not comment on the TSN report when reached by the Register on Friday.

The Ducks sent several representatives to Madison during Schultz’s junior season, including former players and current front office consultants Scott Niedermayer and Todd Marchant.