When Justin Schultz came out of the University of Wisconsin to sign with the Edmonton Oilers, it started out well. With 48 points in 34 AHL contests during the lockout, it did look like he had Norris-trophy potential, as then-GM Craig MacTavish said later. As Mark Spector of Sportsnet writes, it started to erode for Schultz soon after. The defenseman now sits among the leaders in points in the league from defensemen, and has been a perfect fit in Pittsburgh this season.
While Spector goes through the history of his demise in Edmonton, it will be interesting to follow his contract negotiation this summer. At just $1.4MM this season, Schultz is due for a huge raise as he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1st. At 26 years old, the Penguins will be buying out almost entirely UFA years if they extend him long-term, meaning the AAV will be substantial. Pittsburgh will have an interesting off season, with Schultz, Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot all RFAs, and several key players set to hit the open market. While Schultz will likely be priority #1, it will be a tough negotiation.
- The NHL has handed down $2000 embellishment fines to both Jake Muzzin and Johnny Gaudreau for separate incidents. The league gives out a warning on the first instance, meaning that Muzzin and Gaudreau have been told already to stop diving. Muzzin in particular was given his warning after an October 14th game against Philadelphia, and this fine comes from an incident against Vancouver last weekend. Subsequent fines will increase to a maximum of $5000, but will also carry a financial penalty for the head coach should the player receive five citations.
- Travis Zajac will miss the New Jersey Devils next game as he left the team today to return home. His wife is expecting their third child any day now. With the Devils out of a playoff race and stuck at the bottom of the standings, Zajac likely won’t be rushed back into the lineup. Their quest now for the best draft pick available is more important than winning games.