This past summer, one of the most sought after free agents on the market was a 21-year-old (now 22)youngster, that had never even played an NHL game. This young defenseman of course is Justin Schultz.
Schultz signed a two-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers on July 1st, with the Oilers expecting the former Anaheim Ducks prospect to be a mainstay on the NHL roster immediately.
With the lockout still ongoing, Schultz’s much anticipated debut is obviously still on hold.
That being said, Schultz is showing the hockey world why there was so much interest in him on the free agent market. As of this writing, Schultz leads the entire AHL in points with 28, through 18 games. Now while stats aren’t usually the most important indicator for young players that are not playing in the NHL, this is a bit different. With the on-going lockout, many young NHL players including Schultz’s teammates Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkinsand Taylor Hall are playing in the AHL, as they are eligible without having to clear waivers. So the Oklahoma City Barons, (the Oilers farm team) is absolutely stacked. The rest of the league is also looking fairly competitive with more young talent across the board.
For a young player, especially defenseman, to score at a clip the way Schultz is scoring, is rather impressive. This just shows a nice glimpse into the very exciting future for Oiler fans. While Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Hall are already NHL stars, Schultz will be joining them when the lockout is over and he will continue to rack up the points at the NHL level playing with such talented young players. While the Oilers might not be a playoff team yet, as their outstandings corps of young forwards continue to improve and the clubs much improved pipeline of defensemen develops and joins the NHL squad, this club is well on its way to becoming a force in the Western Conference within the next few years.