Justin Schultz Expected To Become A UFA: Burke Calling?

May 26th, 2012 18 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has already acquired two of the prospects that he drafted while serving as the GM of the Anaheim Ducks in defenseman Jake Gardiner and centre Nicolas Deschamps, now it appears as if Burke will make every effort to sign another former Burke draft choice in defensive prospect Justin Schultz.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting that Schultz has officially de-registered from the University Of Wisconsin, which should make the highly regarded Schultz an unrestricted free agent in time for the NHL Entry Draft in June, although, unless he is traded, the Ducks would still hold his rights until June 22nd, with Schultz becoming a UFA on July 1st.

Schultz was Jake Gardiner’s defensive partner at the University of Wisconsin where they enjoyed good chemistry both on and off the ice.

While nothing has been confirmed, there are rumors circulating that Gardiner and Schultz would like to play together at the NHL level, which has led to plenty of speculation that Schultz’s ears will be wide open should Burke call with a contract offer.

Of course, Burke will likely have to give up something in return for Schultz, as the Ducks hold his rights up to June 22nd. Making a trade with Anaheim for Schultz’s rights would give Burke exclusive negotiating rights until Schultz officially became a UFA on July 1st.

Originally drafted in the second round (43rd overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Schultz has excelled at the University level, bringing home a number of awards and honors including a selection to the WCHA All-Rookie Team in 2009-10, a First All-Star Team selection, NCAA West First All-American Team selection, and a Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2010-11, followed by another Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011-12 and a WCHA First All-Star Team selection that season as well.

Listed at 6’1” and 185 pounds, Schultz does not have intimidating size, but he more than makes up for it in his skating ability, speed, agility, poise and a high hockey IQ which has scouts drooling. In fact, many scouts believe Schultz is NHL ready, which will only help his case if he does become a UFA July 1st.

Through three seasons at the WCHA level, Schultz posted 40 goals and 73 assists for a total of 113 points, including a 47 point effort in 2010-11 and a 44 point effort in 2011-12, scoring seven and nine power play goals in 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively. Schultz also brings a career plus/minus rating of +27 to the table.

When you add it all up, Schultz is one of the best defensive prospects to come along in quite sometime, which should see a number of teams approach the Ducks for his rights.

Despite fleecing the Ducks in the Jake Gardiner deal, it appears as if Burke’s relationship with the Ducks is solid. Burke’s history with the Ducks organization and with Schultz himself should give Burke a leg up in any negotiations with both the Ducks and the player himself.

With the Ducks unable to get a contract done with Schultz since he was drated in 2008, it is hard to believe they will get one done before the July 1st deadline. While it is hard to believe the Ducks would let Schultz go for nothing, should the Ducks trade his rights to another NHL club Schultz would have to give his approval. Therefore, essentially Schultz will land wherever he wants to play, trade or no trade.

Nothing is written in stone, but you have to think Burke will go to the wall to acquire Schultz this summer, giving him yet another blue chip defensive prospect and potentially another key addition to his 2012-13 roster.

Until next time,





  1. Dave says:

    I think Schultz wants to see what hes worth on the open market so I doubt he gets dealt for rights unless its where he wants to sign (or where he would be amicable to signing) and his greedy agent gets his close to his target ceiling price on the open market.

    I hope Burkie gets him – he’d look awesome beside a guy like Gunnar or Schenn. Killer PP instinct and looks to be defensively responsible and like Gards – can skate his way out of trouble to make up for the lack of size.

    Having said that, its going to be crowded again this year unless (and I expect) and few d men to be packaged out of town.


  2. peterj says:

    This player is a must sign for Brian Burke, and he should do it without giving the Ducks any compensation, as this kid will be a UFA on July 1. If Burke can sign this kid he will have 2 potential stud D men for many years to come. Signing Shultz would be a real positive for Burke and the Leafs, who knows it might even quiet some of the naysayers who who seem to think that if you don’t turn a team with little talent at any level into a playoff contender in 3 1/2 years you should be fired.

  3. Mark Ritter says:

    Agreed Peter— a must sign!

  4. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey Dave—

    Burke shouldn’t worry about having too many assets, we need all we can get. If Burkie signs this kid maybe management bites the bullet and let’s BB ship Komisarek to the AHL?

    I can see a lot of teams being interested, but let’s not get carried away here. While talented, Schultz is playing University Hockey, which is ok, but hardly the level of the OHL. Schultz’s size scares me a bit. A comparable might be Ryan Ellis (5’10, 180 pounds) who has trouble at the NHL level, much of which hinges on his lack of size and strength.

    I think to get a deal done Burke will have to be offering a 3-4 year deal at $1.2-$1.5 million per.

    Given Burke likely won’t give much up in terms of talent for the kid (if any), Burkie could go as high as $1.6-$1.8 million, but that may be overpaying for a kid that may need a year or two at the AHL level before he fills out.

    Still, I’d rather take a chance on him than keep the likes of Komi around, so Let’s hope BB gets this done!

    Dude—check you facebook, I am coming into the Markham area tonight for UFC, maybe we can finally have that brew?

    Cheers man!

  5. Dave Neeson says:

    Crap dude…just got your message now. Make sure this isnt your last trip to my neck of the woods!

    Cheers bro


  6. Mark Ritter says:

    Short notice for sure, so no worries. I’ll be back in the T.O. soon enough brother! You’ve got my cell now, so fire me a call sometime and we’ll make something happen.

  7. Dave says:

    Sounds good dude!

  8. Dave says:

    Dude…..remember in a blog a little while back a talked about hoping the Leafs get Chris Bourque when he comes UFA this July 1 (son of Ray Bourque) – dudes been stuck in the AHL lightig it up but just cant seem to stick in the NHL. Well, looks like the caps traded him to Boston a few days back. SO much for that idea.Man was I pissed seeing that this morning, I really wanted this guy in a Maple Leaf!

  9. Mark Ritter says:

    Yeah, I remember. I think Hamill went the other way. Might have been a nice addition, he’ll be hard pressed to see much action with Chicago- thats a very deep roster.

  10. Dave says:

    True enough, esp after they resigned Mayers among others yesterday. Going back to our goalie debate…wonder what the odds of Burkie getting a three way deal done for Tim Thomas are? I think his days are done is Beantown but I dont see Chirelli mobing Thomas into his own division – no way. This is kind of a pie in the sky thing but he would be the best of whats available and so say I that hes avaiable!


  11. Dave says:

    Man I need to proof what I write before hittting send…..

  12. Mark Ritter says:

    I hear Thomas may be traded or take a year off. Either way, you are right, would have to be a three-way deal for sure…Burke ain’t trading anymore picks to Boston!

  13. Hudson says:

    No thanks on Thomas. What a douche.

  14. Dave says:

    Agreed Hud – not a real level headed dude, but hes a great ‘tender!


  15. Dave says:

    Hmmm….Voukoun to Pitt for a 7th then they sign him 2 years 4 million. Weird. Either Voukoun thinks hes capabale of beating out MA FLeury for the starting job (or at least playing 30-35 games) or he’s resigned himself to the fact that he’s going to play second fiddle the rest of his career. Which is weird to me seeing as though theres a few teams around the league that probably would have signed him as a number 1 come July 1st.

    Here’s a new article for you to write:

    A new NHL trend, top end teams seem to be going with 1 and 1a’s. Exaamples you ask? Boston: Thomas/Rask (althogh probably not in 2012/2013 since he’s Timmy is taking his toys and going home). Vancouver: Lu/Schnieder. LA: Quick/Bernier. Philly (sort of) Bryz/Bob. NYR: Lundquist/Biron. Nashville: Rinne/Lindback. Colorado (not a top end team but will be): Varly/Giggy. Minny (see Colorado): Backstrom/Harding. STL Blues: Halak/Elliott.

    Whats does this mean for the buds? Well, so says I that Reimer gets healthy, someone lights a fire under his arse and we get Lu or something along those lines.


  16. Mark Ritter says:


    I think after last season Vokoun realized that he had lost a step and is probably “ok” to be number two. Pitt is a strong offensive team, so even if he gives up three goals a night Pitt can score 4-5 on many nights so Vokoun wins!

    The article idea is a good one! I think the necessity for a good number two is definitely there and backed up by your findings. Reimer just needs to be healthy. Health can go a long way, both in the physical and mental parts of the game. If he is healthy he should be solid, but not without a good backup do the Leafs make the playoffs.

    Burke will bring in another veteran goalie, see how Scrivens performs next season (and Reims) and reassess after the midway point.

    Despite not playing a ton of games, Josh Harding is an 8 year vet, so I think he is an option. To me, the goalie market will be soft this summer, and I think that is part of the reason Vokoun signed. He got 2 years, and $2 million, and, as pathetic as that sounds, that is the going rate right now.


  17. Dave says:

    Good point about Voukoun. To me though this move sayd theyre going to move either one of their high price D men or possibly Staal. 2 million is significant for a back up.

    Agreed also, Burke will get vetran help in net, whether it be a seasoned number two or otherwise. I’m pulling for Reims and I’m hoping this was just the second year jinx mixed with injuries. For some reason I’m just not sold on Harding, he’s still under 500 and theres just something about his game I dont like – cant put my finger on it. I’d much prefer if were going the true number 2 route to see Biron, Hedberg or Clemmensen. Having said that, those guys wil be north of 1.5 as well and will want multi years deals which likely wont sit well with Burke.

    Scrivens is the next guy and will likely see ice time with the big club next year when the injury bug inevitably hits. He’ll only get better dominating another year at the AHL level and lets hope he’s lights out tonight adding to his .944 save percentage. He needs to lead the boys out of this hole and by the looks of the injuries to the Marlies, he’s gonna have to put them on his back.


  18. Hudson says:

    A bit OT. Just watching this now. I love Brian Burke.


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