Edmonton Oilers rookie defenseman Justin Schultz hasn’t played an American Hockey League game since January, yet he still leads all AHL d-men in goals and points. In 34 games played he amassed 18 goals and 48 points. Had he stayed in the AHL all season, he would have been on pace to break the record for rookie defenseman in goals, assists and points. Those accolades made him an easy choice to receive the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s most outstanding defenseman.
Winning such an award is always an honor, but to win despite not having played in the league for three months just shows the kind of talent that this kid has. The 22 year old was an All American at the University of Wisconsin and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award two seasons in a row.
Schultz has not looked out of place at the NHL level, although he’s certainly experienced the bumps in the road that every first year player does, particularly a blueliner. It always takes defenseman a little bit more time to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NHL than it does for forwards. He started off his NHL career strong, but, like most of his Oiler teammates, he’s been taking his lumps. But make no mistake, this guy has star written all over him.
Through 42 games, Schultz has 6 goals and 21 points, pretty solid numbers for a freshman on a bad team. He actually leads all Oiler d-men in goals and points so far this season. Schultz has such good control of the puck and his smooth skating makes him the quintessential powerplay quarterback. He looks to be a mainstay on Edmonton’s blueline for years to come.
Keeping with the theme of former college players, the Oilers announced this week that they signed Yale forward Andrew Miller to a one year entry level contract. Miller scored 18 goals and 41 points in 38 for the Bulldogs this season and led his team to an NCAA Championship. At 5 foot 10, Miller will fit right in with the smallish forward group that the Oilers have at the moment.
Now for your viewing pleasure, here are some comments from Justin Schultz himself and a highlight package of his glory days in the AHL.