Though he had several teams pursuing him over the last few weeks, Jimmy Schuldt is expected to head back to school for one more season. That’s according to Michael Russo of The Athletic, who reports that Schuldt had “plenty of free agent interest” but will try to win a National Championship as a senior in 2018-19. The undrafted defenseman has been on the NHL radar for quite some time, and was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker trophy this season as one of the nation’s best players.
Russo reported earlier this season (subscription required) that as many as 22 teams had reached out to Schuldt, including the Minnesota Wild, while Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet linked him to the Montreal Canadiens back in November. He had attended Canadiens development camp in the past, and was an obvious target to help their blue line. After 38 points in 40 games anyone can understand the NHL interest, which is sure to resurface next spring as he closes out his NCAA career.
Schuldt isn’t your prototypical offensive defenseman despite his big point total this season, instead generating chances with his big shot and focusing more on the defensive side of the game. Though no college prospect is completely polished, Schuldt comes with built in leadership ability and poise and should be able to step right into the NHL without much trouble after next season. His ceiling may be a little lower than some other dynamic offensive talents that have turned pro over the last few seasons, but he’ll almost certainly be a useful player at the professional level.
For St. Cloud State, his return is a huge boost for a program that lost its head coach recently. After Don Lucia left his position at the University of Minnesota, it was filled by luring Bob Motzko away from St. Cloud after a 13-year stint with the program. Brett Larson has taken over as head coach of the Huskies, and will likely lean on Schuldt all season as his captain and veteran presence on the back end.