Breaking: Ottawa is on Justin Schultz’s Shortlist

More to come…

Update: 11:01 a.m.

Bob McKenzie has confirmed that the Rangers are in. Darren Dreger has confirmed that the Rangers are in and as the above Pierre Lebrun tweet confirms, both Ottawa teams are in. Combined with last night’s knowledge that both the Oilers and Canucks were both in, we have our shortlist for Justin Schultz’s services.

More to come…

Update: 11:09 a.m.

According to Darren Dreger, the Flyers are out. They join Detroit as a rather storied franchise that is left on the outside.

More to come…

Update: Hancicapping the teams

It’s not surprising news to see that the Leafs and Rangers are in on Schultz. With players like Jake Gardiner and New York’s Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, both teams have rosters that are highlighted by former Wisconsin teammates of Schultz. Should he place a value on familiarity and playing with his friends, both teams could be favored.

New York has had some recent history acquiring defencemen who could not agree to terms with the NHL organization that originally drafted them. It is worth mentioning however that both Tim Erixon (Flames) and Ryan McDonagh (Montreal) were acquired via trade before either hit UFA. In terms of opportunity, it’s difficult to assess how New York will make room for Schultz. With Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Michael Del Zotto (RFA), Anton Stralman (RFA) having already played at the NHL level and Erixon and Dylan McIlraith potentially vying for spots (it’s too mean spirited to include Wade Redden in this conversation), one has to wonder how much opportunity there will be.

They are also the only American team to be linked to Schultz thus far. In consideration of his alleged interest in playing for a Canadian franchise, this mightwork against New York. Moreover, with a number of their best defenceman nearing the end of their respective contracts in the next season or two, one has to wonder how much this could impact Schultz’s future earning power when his ELC expires as well. Mind you, should Schultz sign, it would give the Rangers the flexibility to parlay some defensive assets in any prospective Rick Nash trade.

Thanks to the success that the Rangers had last season — finishing first in the Eastern Conference — one also has to wonder how patient the organization will be if Schultz takes more time than anticipated to adapt to the NHL and work out the wrinkles. With a win-now mentality, will the organization be willing to stomach some of the growing pains that come for any defenceman?

In Toronto, the organization already has five defenceman under contract for next season and a sixth, Cody Franson, who is a restricted free agent. Toronto fits a number of Schultz’s criteria — Canadian franchise, a transparent opportunity to play, the Jake Gardiner factor — but the Leafs have not made the postseason since 2004. Like the Oilers, one has to hope, at least from an Ottawa perspective, that this inability to compete for postseason berth over the past few seasons will act as a deterrent.

Speaking of the Oilers, they offer the most exciting collecting of talented young forwards. With names like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle, Oilers management has cultivated a group — translation: been awarded the number one draft selection for the past three years — that is ridiculously skilled but hasn’t translated into a winning on-ice product. As a western Canadian team, they, like Vancouver, will appeal to Schultz should he want to play closer to home. Of course, the knock on Edmonton is that it’s Edmonton. Since the conclusion of the 2004/05 work stoppage, the most high-profile players to sign here have been Mike Peca and Nikolai Khabibulin. Having listened to Tim Murray’s recent on the Team 1200 in which he articulated the argument that Ottawa will advance the idea that they’re a good young team that’s competitive now, Edmonton cannot make those same claims. And like the Rangers’ impending free agent defenceman, Edmonton’s youth, with the exception of Yakupov, are approaching the end of their ELCs. In other words, as these players become more expensive, they become less cost effective and limit what management can do to supplement the roster.

As the hometown team, Vancouver also has the benefit of having the most talent-laden roster. As a perennial Stanley Cup contender, the Canucks give Schultz the best opportunity to win now. Unfortunately for Schultz, this will come at a cost. With $18.675 million already locked up in six defencemen (Tanev, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Ballard, Edler and Alberts), Schultz likely will not get the top four ice-time that he’s looking for.

Here in Ottawa, we all know the perks and benefits that the Senators can afford. (Just scroll through the archives for Schultz-related pieces, if you haven’t seen them already.)

Buying into the Hype?

Through the various social media platforms, I’ve noticed a few people who do not understand the hype surrounding Schultz. Some have even compared him to ballyhooed players like Fabian Brunnstrom or Matt Gilroy. While true that Brunnstrom was an overhyped player, he, unlike Schultz lacked pedigree.

Schultz was drafted as an 18 year old in the second round of a very strong 2008 draft that was littered with highly touted defencemen. While there may be a learning curve for him when he steps into the NHL, the thought of adding a former second pick at no cost is a blessing. Sure, there’s the possibility that the first year of his development may be difficult, it’s about what kind of finished product he can become for the organization down the road.

So with Ottawa being in the mix, it’ll be interesting to see who the organization decides to send to Toronto to meet with Schultz’s Newport Sports representatives. If it were up to me, I’d send Bryan Murray and Paul MacLean to talk about Erik’s 2012 Norris Trophy victory. Hell, for that matter, management should even bring in a former Wisconsin Badger in Kyle Turris to discuss the opportunities that the Senators afforded him last season.

Update: 7:33 p.m.

The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan alludes to that reports that indicate that the Rangers and Edmonton made presentations Thursday in Toronto, and that the Oilers contingent included star winger Taylor Hall.

I’m not particularly sure if it has been confirmed that Vancouver has met with Schultz yet, but Jason Botchford from the Vancouver Providence indicates that the Canucks would be a good fit but aren’t willing to guarantee playing time for Schultz

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