The 25 year old earned $3.9MM last season which meant that his qualifying offer was to be for the same amount. That was too rich for the Penguins who already are a team that is largely cap-strapped heading into free agency.
Last season, Schultz suited up in 63 games split between the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers, picking up 4 goals and 14 assists. Those 18 points marked a career low as prior to 2015-16, he had put up a minimum of 27 points in each of his three previous seasons.
The Penguins will retain Schultz’s rights until July 1st and are still able to re-sign him at an amount lower than his qualifying offer if they so desire. If they can’t come to terms, Schultz would enter free agency on Friday as an offensive-minded blueliner in a market that isn’t exactly overflowing with players like him.
As for the rest of Pittsburgh’s pending RFA’s, only forward Dominik Uher will be qualified. Uher has already signed with HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga for next season; qualifying him allows the Penguins to retain his rights in spite of his leaving.