Mar 20, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz (19) shoot the puck against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Rexall Place. Buffalo Sabres won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Schultz: Trade Bait

It seems like a crazy notion for the Edmonton Oilers. Trade Justin Schultz? Well, yeah.The younger defensive prospects Edmonton possesses appear to have a ton of upside. Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson, David Musil, Dillon Simpson—the list goes on. Marincin and Nurse are locks to make the team in the near future, and the others are not far away.

Regardless, is it crazy talk to suggest the team deal away the young man who chose the mighty Oilers over any other team in the NHL? It might explain why things are so quiet between the two parties. I think that Craig MacTavish wants to keep the puck moving defender. He does put up plenty of offense. If his agent is asking for big time money, however, they may get rebuffed. I mentioned in my last Odds and Ends column that they will sign him for a 2yr/$8 million contract; if they go through with it, that’s roughly what it will be. If they find his desires unmatchable? He may get dealt.

The problem, as usual, is what can you get back for him? It’s become awfully rare for the Oilers to trade a player when his value is highest. In this case, it’s hard to gauge what he is exactly worth. Schultz has an excellent first pass, and he is isn’t afraid to jump up in the play and create scoring opportunities. He isn’t a forward, though. (I personally would love to see him try it, though. Just like Philip Larsen last year, perhaps he’d be better suited as a defensively minded forward—analogous to the career of Dustin Byfuglien, perhaps he is destined to switch roles).

Let’s stick to reality, though. It only makes sense for him to be sent away if the team can acquire one of two things:

—an older, more experienced, top 4 NHL defender

or

—a second line center.

Now, I am of the mind that Schultz is a baby in the NHL and to judge him on his body of work under a team in turmoil during his opening frames seems like a bad call. Media types talk all the time about how defensemen usually don’t blossom until they reach their mid to late twenties. Schultz is now 24 years old. A bridge contract at a reasonable rate would give the Oilers time to truly appreciate what they really have in him, and the player would see his fire lit to prove to them he’s worth a major, long term contract.

That above scenario is what would be the best solution for the team. My goodness, though. They better have an awfully good trade in mind if they do send him packing.
For instance, here are two trade scenarios that could make some sense:

To FLORIDA:

Justin Schultz, 4th Round Pick

To EDMONTON

Nick Bjusgtad

or

To VANCOUVER:

Justin Schultz, 3rd Round Pick

To EDMONTON:

Dan Hamhuis

Honestly, I don’t see these trades occurring. I think Bjusgtad is someone the Oilers should aggressively pursue by way of trade, and it would take a big trade like this. Nonetheless, if the Oilers do trade him, it needs to help fill a void, otherwise it could be massively risky.

Expect him in the lineup this year.

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Tags: Brandon Davidson Dan Hamhuis Darnell Nurse David Musil Edmonton Oilers Justin Schultz Martin Marincin Nick Bjugstad

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