NHL Free Agency 2012: Vancouver Canucks Making Room for Justin Schultz?
One of the most interesting free agent targets this summer has yet to play his first NHL game.
Kelowna native Justin Schultz officially hits the open market today, and it's rumored that Vancouver figures prominently on the list of his preferred destinations.
Schultz was originally drafted in the second round by Anaheim back in 2008, when he was playing for the Westside Warriors of the BCHL. He has now completed three years of college with the University of Wisconsin Badgers. According to Don Brennan of QMI Agency, "Hockey people say he's ready to be an impact player in the NHL right away."
Wikipedia explains how Schultz has become a free agent:
During the last week of May, 2012, Schultz officially "de-registered" from the University of Wisconsin triggering a process that will likely make him an unrestricted free agent (UFA).
According to league rules, from the time Anaheim was given notice of the de-registration from school, the Ducks have a 30-day exclusive window to try to sign him or trade him. If Anaheim does not sign or trade Schultz, he will be eligible to sign an Entry Level Contract with any of the NHL's other 29 teams on July 1, 2012.
The 30-day window ended on Sunday, so Schultz is now allowed to explore his options. As Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports points out, unlike NHL free agents, he does not have to wait until July 1 to begin negotiating but can do so throughout this week.
Many NHL free agents will be tempted by the biggest contract offers next week, but money will not be the issue for Schultz as the CBA essentially dictates his salary structure as an entry-level player. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News explains:
Will Justin Schultz choose to sign with the Canucks?
Every team that makes an offer on him will do so knowing it will have to absorb a $3.8 million salary cap hit next season - $925,000 in base salary and signing bonus, $850,000 in ‘A’ level bonuses (for achievements such as scoring 10 goals, 25 assists, 40 points, 0.49 points per game and others) and $2 million in ‘B’ level bonuses (for elite performance such as finishing among the top 10 defensemen in goals, assists, points or ice time or being a finalist for the Norris Trophy) – on a two-year deal.
Schultz will have plenty of suitors willing to pay that kind of freight, so it comes down to a matter of where he'll want to play.
Ben Kuzma of The Province suggests that Vancouver would appeal:
If Schultz really wants to play closer to home, the Canucks can offer the right fit as being part of a veteran core without the pressure of being “the” guy. There would be the carrot of possibly filling the No. 4 spot and getting ample power-play time — even if UFA blueliner Sami Salo returns in a limited role — and landing Schultz would be especially attractive if the Canucks can move Keith Ballard’s contract. They could use the cap space and they need to get younger.
News surfaced on Monday that the Canucks will not be bringing back defensemen Aaron Rome or Marc-Andre Gragnani, so it looks like they could be making room for some fresh blood on the blueline.
Vancouver will have to pull out all the stops, but it looks like they have a real shot at Schultz on July 1.
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