For months now, it has looked likely that highly regarded prospect defenseman Justin Schultz would take advantage of a rarely used CBA loop-hole, withdraw from school, spurn the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and become a free-agent on July 1st. According to Bob Mckenzie, that’s exactly what has happened today:
Word out of Wisconsin is ANA draft Justin Schultz filed paperwork to quit school. Neither Ducks nor Schultz’s reps responding for comment.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 25, 2012
So the process has begun by which Justin Schultz will become a free-agent on July 1st, however, there is one more wrinkle.
Read past the jump.
According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, the Ducks now have a thirty day exclusive negotiating window with which to make one last, desperate sales pitch:
Ducks now have 30-day window to negotiate exclusively MT @TSNBobMcKenzie Word… is Justin Schultz filed paperwork to quit school.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) May 25, 2012
The fact is, however, that the Ducks have had months to make overtures to Justin Schultz. That Schultz has consistently given the Ducks the cold shoulder up to this point and that he decided to finish school rather than join the team and burn an RFA year, says it all. The writing is on the wall, and Justin Schultz wants to decide where he’ll play next season.
Anaheim’s exclusive thirty day negotiating window will close on June 25th, which, will give Justin Schultz and his agent five days before July 1st to negotiate with other teams. By the letter of the law, other free agents aren’t able to discuss contract terms with other teams until July 1st, though it’s widely suspected that this is a rule teams regularly play fast and loose with.
What we may end up with, then, is a situation like we regularly see in the NBA (where free agents are free to negotiate with other teams on July 1st, but aren’t eligible to sign those deals for another week). We may know where Schultz going to play in 2012-13 several days before July 1st – and then his signing of that contract will be just a formality.
So will the highly regarded, West Kelowna born prospect end up with the Canucks? Well for what it’s worth, Jeff Angus ranked the Canucks the fourth most likely destination for Schultz earlier this week and according to Jason Botchford on the Team1040 morning show this morning – the Canucks will absolutely be making a pitch. But so will every other NHL team under the sun.
What has been crystal clear for a while, is that Schultz is going to hit the open market this summer. Today’s withdrawal from Wisconsin is just another step towards that outcome.