Share “Oklahoma City Barons: Justin Schultz might...”

Oklahoma City Barons: Justin Schultz might be in the mold of NHL greats such as Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque

The Edmonton Oilers are excited about their defensive prospect playing for the Barons.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 10, 2012
Advertisement

photo - AHL HOCKEY: Justin Schultz of the Barons controls the puck as the Oklahoma City Barons play the Houston Aeros in an American Hockey League game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, October 26, 2012: ORG XMIT: SCPA0378    PHOTO BY STEVEN CHRISTY, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN
AHL HOCKEY: Justin Schultz of the Barons controls the puck as the Oklahoma City Barons play the Houston Aeros in an American Hockey League game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, October 26, 2012: ORG XMIT: SCPA0378 PHOTO BY STEVEN CHRISTY, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN

Schultz is on pace to shatter every AHL record for a defenseman if the NHL cancels the 2012-13 season and he plays in OKC all year.

No AHL rookie blue-liner has scored more than 20 goals or 66 points. The AHL single-season record for points by a defenseman is 96, set 19 years ago by Chris Snell of the St. John's Maple Leafs.

“The amount of success he's had has been a little mind-boggling,” Eaves said. “We knew he would have success. But to lead the American League in points speaks to two things. It speaks to that extra year of college helped him. And it speaks to the level of ability of his teammates.

“They have a lot of high-end kids down there in Oklahoma City. Put some high-end kids together, and they're able to do some pretty special things.”

Named the AHL Player of the Month in October and the Rookie of the Month in November, the Westbank, British Columbia, Canada native always had the skill set. Now he has the size.

Whether he's able to match the standards of NHL defensive greats such as Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque or former Edmonton Oilers star Paul Coffey remains to be seen.

“His ability to see the ice and make things happen is very special,” Eaves said. “But there's still another step to make at the National Hockey League level. Let's not kid ourselves. He's given some indications that he's going to be able to do some things. But it's another step, another level. He realizes that.”

The Oilers drafted one of the greatest offensive defensemen in NHL history in Coffey, part of the Wayne Gretzky-era dynasty. Coffey, who played 22 seasons for nine different teams, ranks second all-time among defensemen in career goals and assists.

Nelson compares Schultz's game to Los Angeles All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty, the No. 2 overall pick in that 2008 draft who last season helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup.

“Justin is playing brilliant hockey right now,” Nelson said. “He's an impact player. Obviously, we'll have to see how he does in the National League once it starts up. But he's that type of player. That bodes well for the Edmonton Oilers. It's pretty exciting for the organization.”

Schultz is an example that delaying a pro career can be beneficial.

“Those three years in college were big for me,” Schultz said. “I still have a lot to learn, but I'm probably playing the best hockey of my life right now.”

by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    This film with Oklahoma ties is already generating Oscar buzz
  2. 2
    Madeleine Albright Burns Conan O'Brien in Hilarious Twitter War
  3. 3
    NYPD officers seen discarding gloves, masks into garbage can near Ebola patient's apartment
  4. 4
    Senate Midterm Elections
  5. 5
    (NEW PHOTOS) Jennifer Lawrence buys 'romantic' home that Jessica Simpson sold last year
+ show more