Canucks Front Runners for Justin Schultz?

Canucks fans have long believed that Justin Schultz is probably Vancouver bound.

The desires of Canucks fans, however, have to be taken with a heaping of sea salt: every B.C. born defenseman in recent memory has been rumoured to want – in their heart of hearts – to come home and help the Canucks win a Cup. From Hamhuis, to Garrison, to Weber: the sea-to-sky boners from this fan-base endure through all contrary evidence.

But with "Justin Schultz decision day" nearing – the notion that the Canucks are a front-runner for Schultz’s services is beginning to crop up more and more from respected reporters, insiders and even other NHL teams – and not just among the most optimistic Canucks fans.

Click past the jump for more.

The tweet embedded at the top of this post comes from Sam Carchidi, a plugged in Philadelphia Flyers beat-writer who apparently has knowledge of the situation. It’s certainly conceivable, seeing as how the Flyers have been one of two American teams in hot-pursuit of the West Kelowna native.

Bob Stauffer, a plugged-in Oilers insider and indirect team employee also said something similar on Twitter today, via Cult of Hockey:

“Personally I think the Oilers sit 4th in pursuit of Schultz. Vancouver leads the way imo (home-field advantage). Leafs and Rangers 2nd and 3rd respectively because players recruit players. Gardiner in T.O., and Stepan and McDonagh with NYR.”

Justin Schultz has yet to play a single NHL game, so hailing him as a savior is silly. But the kid clearly has game and he’s been highly regarded as a prospect for years. This isn’t another absurdly hyped "late-bloomer" in the mold of past over-hyped, undrafted free agents who flamed out, like Fabian Brunnstrom, or Matt Gilroy. As Corey Pronman told Jeff Angus several months ago, acquiring Schultz would be the equivalent of adding a more NHL-ready, top-10 pick to the roster and Schultz would instantly become the Canucks best prospect.

If he were to sign with the Canucks, Schultz, a right-side defenseman with a cannon of a shot, could conceivably push Chris Tanev and Sami Salo (if he is re-signed) for the chance to start the season on the team’s second pairing. While analysts like Bob McKenzie and Pierre Lebrun have touted the opportunity Schultz would have were he to sign with the Edmonton Oilers, there’s really no better job in hockey than caddying the Sedins on Alex Edler’s right side. In fact, the Canucks should probably get Christian Ehrhoff on the phone to talk about his past season in Buffalo as part of their efforts to woo the kid.

Of course, if the Canucks do land Schultz, there may be some downside. It is rumoured that the second Schultz is signed, the Ducks will file tampering charges against whichever team acquires him. As Elliotte Friedman wrote about a tampering investigation, in his indispensable thirty thoughts column today: "It’s a tough process. You’re obligated to hand over whatever correspondence the NHL desires."

    • LiamTheShark

      I’m all for thinking that Gillis is an evil genius , but that’s a bit of a stretch. I think that comes down to Burke’s and Gilli’s egos bouncing off each other.

  • LiamTheShark

    Hey Thom,

    Do you think Rome and Gragnani being allowed to walk is indication that the Canucks think they will get Schultz? If im not mistaken, Schultz became an FA on Sunday at midnight and those players were “released” Monday. How does the tampering work? After Sunday at midnight is all good?

    your friend, Nick

  • puck-bandit

    S/N reported that Edmonton were in flight to see Schultz today, pretty quick to the draw, but makes total sense with all the youth the team has.
    If the Canuck’s don’t get him it won’t be a bust, I’m sure that at least one of our prospects are ready for the big club this year.

    The Lou deal with Burkie will not have any bearing on what is decided for any UFA, it’s a deal that that does not have to be done any time soon.

    I cannot see Vanc get eyed for tampering in any way, with MG being a Sports Lawyer he knows better than to cross that threshold. This is of course if we are fortunate enough to get this kid. Gotta remember as well, Schultz has not played a game yet in the big league, so he could end up not being what we have all built him up to be.