Oklahoma City Barons: Rookie Justin Schultz is not a typical defenseman

The University of Wisconsin product can produce a lot of points, particularly on the power play.
by Michael Baldwin Published: October 11, 2012

Green said what makes Schultz stand out is he can impact both ends.

“He's so fast, he can get back in the defensive zone, too,” Green said. “There is some offensive defenseman out there, but not many that are good in their own zone, too. He makes a good first pass and then he's quick to join the rush and be part of the offense. That's a rare commodity.”

Schultz was picked in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. He chose to play an additional year of junior A hockey for the Westside Warriors near his hometown of Kelowna, British Columbia. Schultz then chose to play three years at Wisconsin.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder used a loophole in the NHL collective bargaining agreement to become a free agent last summer.

Edmonton didn't win a bidding war for Schultz, because his first pro contract exceed $925,000. Every NHL team basically made the same offer. Schultz chose the Oilers, an organization that hasn't made the playoffs the past six seasons.

“They have so much young talent here,” said Schultz, who had 44 points in 37 games last season for Wisconsin. “They have great coaches in the organization. I get to play in Canada. There were a lot of positives for Edmonton ... And it's great to get to play here in Oklahoma.”

Schultz grew up rooting for Vancouver, the closest NHL team. Edmonton is a 10-hour drive or one-hour flight. He also considered signing with Toronto, Ottawa, Minnesota, the New York Rangers and Canucks.

Where Schultz would land was a closely monitored, drawn out summer drama north of the border.

“It got out of control,” Schultz said. “I just wanted to make a decision, start my career and do whatever was best for me. I'm glad the season is finally here. It was a long summer. I can't wait to start playing and show what I have on the ice instead of off the ice.”

Schultz offered a glimpse of his skills last weekend, scoring a power-play goal in a preseason game against Houston at the Cox Convention Center.

“Exhibition games and real games are a little different,” Schultz said. “It's going to be a lot more intense, especially on the road. I'm looking forward to getting my first game under my belt.”

by Michael Baldwin
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...
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