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More about Justin Schultz
Originally selected in the second round of 2008 draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Justin Schultz's road to the NHL has been anything but typical. Unable or unwilling to come to terms with the Ducks, Schultz's draft rights eventually expired and when they did he instantly became one of the most coveted unrestricted free agents on the market, despite the fact he'd never played an NHL game.
A standout for the University of Wisconsin, the offensively gifted blueliner had no shortage of suitors, including the Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, New Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. Ultimately he chose none of these clubs, settling instead on the Edmonton Oilers, a team loaded with young stars that looks poised to become a juggernaut in the next few years.
However, the NHL lockout meant that Schultz's debut in an Oilers' jersey would have to wait. Instead he joined teammates Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall on the Oilers' AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. Schultz quickly proved that the hype that had surrounded him during the free agent frenzy had been justified. He came out of the gate, guns-a-blazing, and led the AHL in scoring for time. Not bad for a rookie defenseman! When the NHL and the NHLPA finally managed to agree on a deal and Schultz reported to the Oilers he was still second in AHL scoring, behind only Eberle.
Schultz has made a near seamless jump to the NHL, and continues to impress. With 10 points in 18 games, his numbers aren't as heady as those he put up in the AHL, yet his points-per-game average exceeds that which offensive star blueliner Erik Karlsson put up in his rookie campaign.
The future looks bright for the Oilers with their stable of young stars. Though it is still early it is conceivable that Justin Schultz could be the Paul Coffey of his generation should the Oilers manage to repeat the dynasty they enjoyed in the eighties.