Brian Burke will certainly be ecstatic at the opportunity to negotiate with the young defenseman. A choir of insiders confirmed late Thursday morning that the Leafs were among the the five teams on Schultz’s shortlist of teams he’s agreed to negotiate with. The other four teams included: Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, and the Rangers.
The 22 year old phenom hails from Kelowna, B.C. and was drafted in the 2nd round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2008. He began to make his mark that year in the BCHL, scoring 90 points in 106 games. He, then, attended college south of the border at the University of Wisconsin. There, he played for the Badgers for three seasons and maintained his near point-per game average. In fact, in his last two seasons he finished above a point per game. Remember, he’s a defenseman. Is it any wonder that nearly every team wanted to get in on his sweepstakes?
In spite of his offensive prowess, his hockey sense and confidence is the most attractive aspect of his game. Scouts rave about his ability to see the ice at a different level.. to read and anticipate plays before they materialize. Here’s a sample video of this young gun’s talent:
The way in which Schultz plays the game strikes many similarities to that of Drew Doughty. The offensive dominance and hockey sense scream resemblance. Not to mention the nasty wrist shot from the blueline. Doughty is an example of someone who transferred his minor league success to the NHL effectively. He’s a possible multiple Norris Trophy candidate for years to come. Judging by the amount of National Hockey League teams interested, it’s clear that scouts believe Justin Schultz will make a similar transition.
The Leafs have already effectively stolen a future star defenseman in Jake Gardiner from the hands of the Ducks, can they do it yet again? It will certainly be more than difficult to lure the young star away from the other three Canadian markets that he’s allowed to speak with him. There also seems to be a connection with Schultz and Rangers defenseman, Ryan McDonagh. However, Schultz is also good friends with Jake Gardiner from when they played together at the University of Wisconsin.
If Burkey is able to pull it off, it will definitely mean some more reconstruction on the back-end. Just as the drafting of Morgan Rielly gave the Leafs flexibility to move their crowded assets on defense, so this acquisition would as well.
Schultz can only be offered an entry level deal, so money is not the issue. Nor is giving up assets. The acquisition of Justin Schultz would bring in significant skill and potential for a minimal price.. something Toronto so direly needs. TSN Insider Bob McKenzie says that he expects a decision to come out of the Schultz camp no earlier than Friday evening into Saturday.
Will Burke and company pull the double robbery on the Ducks? Stay tuned Leafs Nation!