There’s a poll running over at the Edmonton Journal about what the Oilers should do with Justin Schultz. If the options listed in the poll – particularly the short term ones – were actually plausible options I suspect that he might be signed already. Unfortunately for Schultz, they really aren’t.
I whipped up a quick non-scientific list of all the defencemen I could find who’ve played 100 games prior to 23 since 2009-10 and who have signed a second contract. I found it kind of amazing how flat the spread was on two year deals.
Are you established as a top four defenceman on your team? Odds are that you’ll get between $2.5M and $2.875M on a two year deal. There aren’t really any arguments against that – that’s what the market seems to do.
As you may have noted, Schultz didn’t file for arbitration. While we don’t know what’s going on in the Oilers negotiations with him, it’s pretty obvious what would have happened if he’d gone to arbitration: the Oilers would have selected a two year term and Schultz would have ended up in that $2.5M to $2.875M range. The Oilers aren’t stupid – they can see this as well as anyone and presumably their offer falls somewhere in this range already.
If you’re Schultz then, you don’t really gain anything by going to arbitration, other that eliminating the risk that the Oilers pull their offer, which doesn’t seem like much of a risk to me anyway – Edmonton kind of needs to win some hockey games and they think Schultz will help them with that. Whatever they’re offering now, I’m sure it will be there in September.
As far as a longer term deal goes – see the names and numbers at left, it’s hard to find one that each side would find palatable. Anything over $5MM seems to involve either a Norris calibre defender or a team that thought someone was a Norris calibre defender. Even the $4MM to $5MM category seems to be a little bit outside of where Schultz has trended to date in his career. You’re left with a long term deal at below $4MM, which I doubt Schultz has any interest in.
This will be an interesting negotiation to follow because the Oilers are negotiating from a position of strength, in my view, with both Jeff Petry and Mark Fayne on the right side. An extended negotiation into the season wouldn’t sink the Oilers. That said, with the way that the Oilers have positioned Schultz as being part of the RNH, Eberle and Hall group, it’s kind of awkward to be holding the line with him after having opened the bank for those guys.
I’ve made no secret that I’m skeptical that Schultz becomes a very good top four defenceman. With the Oilers having the leverage here that they do, hopefully they use it wisely. That way, if he turns out, he turns out. If he doesn’t, there’s no long term damage.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org