With Justin Schultz prepared to make his big decision tomorrow, as reported by Canucks 101 and confirmed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Vancouver Canucks are definitely getting excited. The prospect of adding a great young defenseman certainly has many teams, including the Canucks, salivating right now. At the end of the day, Schultz, formerly of the University of Wisconsin Badgers hockey program, could step onto any one of the 30 NHL rosters out there and contribute. With all the sales pitches complete, it is now up to Schultz to make his decision.
Sources indicate that the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks are the favorites to sign the young defender. Each rumored team definitely has a lot to offer despite some blasting Vancouver as an ‘undesirable locale’ for Schultz. Those detractors say that Schultz is neither guaranteed playing time nor development success in Vancouver. This dogmatic, narrow point-of-view held by many is exactly why fans are not the ones who call the shots around the NHL.
Consider the Canucks’ defense core for a moment and ask yourself whether or not Schultz would immediately be the best young defender in the system. Let Canucks 101 do the thinking for you and answer that question with a resounding yes. While the Canucks will reportedly not ‘guarantee’ playing time to Schultz, it is not that hard to fathom Schultz supplanting Sami Salo, Chris Tanev or even Kevin Bieksa on the right side. So, while not physically guaranteeing Schultz top-four minutes, the Canucks’ roster is set up for Schultz to succeed and play significant minutes right now.
In the future, Schultz would undoubtedly be the number one guy in Vancouver. He would be the building block for the future that the Canucks desperately need on the blue line. The notion that Vancouver cannot give Schultz playing time now or in the future is just plain wrong. Schultz is the exact kind of player Vancouver needs now and will need a few years down the road. He is full of potential, an offensive threat and one of the most intriguing young blue liners in hockey today. The Canucks have not had a player like Schultz in their system for a very, very long time.
At the end of the day, Schultz is not going to be ‘the guy’ moving forward with the Ottawa Senators if he chooses to sign in Canada’s capital. Erik Karlsson is too established and too good to be pushed aside by Schultz. In Vancouver, Schultz is pretty much guaranteed to be the number one guy during the prime of his career; in Ottawa, that simply is not the case. Edmonton, on the other hand, does give Schultz to be a number one guy immediately. However, how long will the Oilers be able to keep that team together? Look at what happened to the Chicago Blackhawks just a few years ago. The Oilers are not going to be able to keep Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and Schultz when they all come up for contract extensions.
If Schultz wants to develop in one of the best organizations in the league, live in his home province, play for his childhood favorite team and be a number one D-man for years to come, he will sign with the Vancouver Canucks. Despite what detractors will tell you, the situation in Vancouver with the Canucks is just as good, if not better than the situation in Edmonton or Ottawa. Considering Schultz’ ties to Vancouver, the Canucks certainly have a great shot to sign him. Canucks 101 will keep you posted as this unfolds tomorrow; be sure to follow us on Twitter for breaking Schultz news @VanCanucks101.
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