Justin Schultz is a 21-year-old defenseman from the University of Wisconsin. This past May, Schultz officially de-registered from Wisconsin and has taken advantage of a loophole in the CBA to now become a free agent on July 1st.
In 2008, the Anaheim Ducks selected Schultz in the second round of the NHL Draft. Schultz went to school, however, and did not sign with the Ducks.
Here is Article 8.6 (c)(iv) of the CBA:
If a player drafted at 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft.
So now, this upcoming July 1st, Justin Schultz will be open to sign an entry-level contract with any NHL team he desires. If Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can convince him to come to Philadelphia, it may end up being the move that makes him remembered as the best GM in Flyers' history.
It is no secret that the Flyers need help on the blue line, even after acquiring Luke Schenn. According to ESPN, Schultz is the fourth best available free agent this year. He is above players like Alexander Semin, P.A. Parenteau, Shane Doan and the Flyers own Matt Carle. And Schultz is only 21 years old.
At 6'1", 185 lbs, the Canadian does not blow anyone away with his stature, but his skating ability and hockey IQ are impressive. Schultz is quick, good with the puck, strong along the boards and never commits the lazy turnovers that Flyers' fans have grown sick of from Carle.
Plus, Schultz is a right-handed shot which would make him a good compliment to any of the top-four lefties on the Flyers' roster now.
Schultz is polished enough already that he would almost definitely make the opening day roster. With Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen probably on the first line, Schultz could be paired with Niklas Grosmann or Schenn.
With a top six of Timonen, Coburn, Grossman, Schenn, Schultz and Andrej Meszaros, the Flyers would have a very good, if not great, defensive rotation. Add in young guys like Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon for depth, and the Flyers are set for now and for the future.
With the money they save by signing Schultz, they could let Carle go and have the cap room to pursue Zach Parise or Ray Whitney; it could also give them some cushion to trade for Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. If Holmgren can get Schultz, it will give the Flyers potential to dominate the NHL for the next few seasons.
TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that Schultz will start fielding offers on Wednesday, so a decision may come very soon.
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