Reports are that Schultz wants to play in Canada. Hearing Vancouver.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 26, 2012
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."