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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Penguins Acquire Justin Schultz

The Penguins originally tried getting into the Justin Schultz sweepstakes after he spurned the team that drafted him, the Anaheim Ducks, and signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers. After missing out then, the Pens were able to bring him into the organization today when they completed a trade that brought Schultz to Pittsburgh in return for a 2016 3rd round draft pick. Edmonton will be retaining half of Schultz's $3.9 million cap hit, and Schultz will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Big things were expected of Schultz coming out of the University of Wisconsin after a very successful college career, but he failed to live up to the expectations. He had originally chosen the Oilers because of the early opportunity that signing with Edmonton provided him, but the disaster that the Oiler franchise has been has prevented Schultz from having the type of success he was envisioning. Schultz had a productive rookie year on the scoresheet, posting 8 goals and 19 assists in the lockout shortened season. While he didn't continue that scoring pace, he still managed to score 30+ points in the next two seasons before taking a step back this year with 10 points in 45 games played. Schultz has a career 45.6 SACF%, which looks better in context considering that the Oilers managed the same rate of possession with him out of the lineup, and Schultz has had a positive relative SACF% the past two seasons after being in the negative the first two seasons of his career. Given that the Penguins have been a top 5 possession team since Mike Sullivan has taken over, if Schultz is able to be a break even possession player he'll have a place on the Penguins, especially if his offensive talents shine through in an environment more conducive to success.

It's not quite a rental at the deadline, as Schultz is a pending RFA at the end of the year, but it has a high potential of functioning as a de facto rental. Schultz's current salary is $3.9 million, meaning that the Pens will need to tender him at $3.9 million to retain his rights. It's certainly too high of a price tag given his play this year in Edmonton, but depending on how well he fits in with the Penguins it's definitely something that's within the realm of possibility. A Schultz tender could also be used to try negotiating a longer term deal at a lower AAV, but it would remain to be seen how receptive Schultz would be to that. All in all, it's a deal that does give the Penguins some control over the situation past this season, and even though it's a risk a 3rd round pick probably is a fair gamble considering the pedigree that Schultz has.

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