At Barons training camp last October, former Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini cautioned it might take a little time for rookie defenseman Justin Schultz to adjust to professional hockey following a three-year college career at Wisconsin.
Turned out, American Hockey League opponents had difficulty adjusting to Schultz, an offensive defenseman who quarterbacked a potent power play.
The Oilers will play the Dallas Stars on Friday night at the Cox Convention Center in an NHL preseason finale for both teams.
“I'm looking forward to it,” Schultz said. “We can go back to some of the places we hung out. It was a lot of fun on and off the ice in Oklahoma City.”
It's always fun when you fill up a stat sheet.
On pace to shatter every scoring record for a defenseman in the AHL's 55-year history, Schultz was named the AHL Defenseman of the Year. It was the first time in league history a rookie won the Eddie Shore Trophy.
Schultz won the award even though he played in only 45 percent of the games. He joined the Oilers in early January after the lockout ended.
“That surprised me since I missed more than half the season,” Schultz said. “I felt honored to get an award like that. I owe a lot to my teammates. They scored a ton of goals.”
Schultz did his share of scoring. Named the AHL Player of the Month in October, the AHL Rookie of the Month in November, Schultz scored 18 goals and added 30 assists.
Accumulating 48 points in 34 games are insane stats for a defenseman.
Schultz was so dominant that when the NHL lockout ended he was second in the AHL in scoring behind Barons and Oilers teammate Jordan Eberle. Schultz tied for the AHL defensemen scoring title with Bridgeport's Matt Donovan, the Edmond native, even though Donovan played twice as many games (75).
Schultz excelled as the point man on an elite power play unit.