Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Let the Schultz-waltz begin

July 1 begins a bit early this year as Justin Schultz is now officially a free agent.

The former second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks jumped through his final loophole Sunday night after de-registering from the University of Wisconsin back in May now finds himself the prettiest girl in the school to 30 would-be suitors.

In a year when UFA defencemen are mostly harmless save for the biggest fish Ryan Suter, Justin Schultz has the market firmly in control.

He’s 21, can’t make more than $925,000 on his entry level contract (though depending on performance bonuses he could necessitate absorbing as much as a $3.8 million cap hit next year) , and has 113 points in 121 career NCAA games.

Risk/reward is off the charts

So Justin Schultz in the very rare position where he can choose what teams he wants to start his career with, much to the dismay of the Ducks and the bemusement

The rumoured favourites for Schultz’s services are the Canucks, the Oilers, the Blackhawks, the Rangers, and the Maple Leafs, home of the General Manager who originally drafted Schultz in the second round of the 2008 draft.

Remember, it’s the same entry-level max contract wherever he goes, so this decision will be based purely on preference.

If you’re a young defender with big goals, where are you best served to achieve them?

To say Marc-Andre Gragnani could be gone begs the question, was he even here?

Well it’s the Canucks obviously.

Go ahead and buy a jersey, I know who Schultz will pick when he eventually plucks a goose from the circle of ducks.

1. He’s a BC Boy

Kelowna, breeding ground of future hockey players and vacationing hockey players. Schultz is merely the latest in a long line of provincial defensemen to come home, like Jason Garrison maybe or Willie Mitchell or Scott Neidermayer, no wait.

Let’s imagine that you grew up as a Canucks fan, which you did, and now are an elite-level prospect, which you aren’t, with a chance to reverse-draft yourself.

How are you not picking the Canucks?

Wasn’t that the team you always dreamed of raising the cup with?

The hometown hero is one of the best career options in sport, you have to take it.

2. The Canucks Need Him

It’s been rumoured that Schultz is asking for a guaranteed roster spot this season because for some reason the possibility of earning an AHL wage in the minors isn’t appealing.

There’s some question to what kind of confidence in your own ability that reveals when you need a guarantee to make it through training camp, but hey this could be easily done on the Canucks believe me.

With Aaron Rome and Marc-Andre Gragnani shown the door this week, roster spots are available.

A quick look down the depth chart sees Dan Hamhuis |Kevin Bieksa | Alex Edler followed by an aging Sami Salo, Ballard who is Keith Ballard, and the mysterious Chris Tanev.

Perhaps Tanev takes the next step and slots into that top-four but this looks like a blueline-in-progress. It’s also a blueline in need of a powerplay quarterback.

Salo is likely on the outs to retirement after this season and last season proved the follies of trying to rely on his weathered body as the first option to play with Alex Edler, who was a Kelowna Rocket back when Schultz was 15.

Surely Schultz remembers watching Edler put up 53 points in 63 games.

My 100% take it to the bank Justin Schultz prediction. He’ll pick the Canucks. The BC boy will play at home.

How cool would that be to play with him on the Canucks?

3. And We’re Really Good

Let’s go down that list again.

Edmonton? Might as well come with the ‘Hang in There Baby’ cat poster.

Detroit? The team that can’t beat the Sharks with Nicklas Lidstrom and now don’t have Nicklas Lidstrom.

The Rangers? Good luck putting up points there or even cracking that blueline.

The Leafs? Dion Phaneuf would be your captain.

The Canucks are simply your best shot to win the cup, all other factors aside.

Sure, Schultz’s actions have proved he loves himself as an individual, pretty sure every hockey player wants to win. The Leafs and the Oilers aren’t offering that unless you believe in the plans of Brian Burke or Steve Tambellini.

The Red Wings and Blackhawks have been eternally stalled in the first round in recent playoffs.

The Canucks? They’re the twice-consecutive President’s Trophy champions who have shown the ability to win 16 playoff games (*in two years).

How much more enticing do you need this to be Justin Schultz?

This is a no-brainer.

Join us it’ll be fun.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!

© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Aaron Rome, AHL, Alex Edler, anaheim ducks, Canucks news, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Tanev, Dan Hamuis, Detroit Red Wings, Dion Phaneuf, Edmonton Oilers, jason garrison, Justin Schultz, Justin Schultz Predictions, Keith Ballard, Kelowna, Kelowna Rockets, Kevin Bieksa, Marc-Andre Gragnani, NCAA, NHL, NHL Predictions, Nicklas Lidstrom, Presidents Trophy, ryan suter, Scott Neidermayer, Toronto Maple Leafs, University of Wisconsin, Vancouver Canucks, Willie Mitchell

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