Edmonton Oilers: Jake Gardiner Deal a Comparable for Justin Schultz

With the Toronto Maple Leafs inking young defenseman Jake Gardiner to a long term deal this week, is it time for the Edmonton Oilers to follow suit and sign their own young stud Justin Schultz in similar fashion?

Schultz is currently a restricted free agent coming off his entry level deal, as Gardiner was.


The comparables between the two players are remarkable. If the Oilers are thinking long term with Schultz, Gardiner’s deal could certainly be a reference point.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

AGE 24 24
SHOOTS Left Right
HEIGHT / WEIGHT 6’2” / 185lbs 6’2” / 188lbs
NCAA SCHOOL Wisconsin Wisconsin
DRAFTED Anaheim Ducks – 2008 (17th) Anaheim Ducks – 2008 (43rd)
NHL EXPERIENCE 167 games 122 games
2013-14 STATS 10 – 21 – 31 (-3) 11 – 22 – 33 (-22)


At first glance they look like almost the same player other than the fact one shoots left and the other right. Both players are also very familiar with each as they were defense partners in 2009 and 2010 at the University of Wisconsin.

Not only do their numbers mirror each other, their skill sets are comparable as well. Both players are swift skating, puck moving, offensive minded players. They both possess the ability to control the tempo of the game and lead the rush from the backend.

Gardiner and Schultz are also no stranger to the rumour mill in their short careers as they have already heard their names in various trade rumours since coming into the league.

Gardiner was thought to be a trade chip and someone who was frequently in coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse. With Morgan Rielly also on the roster, many thought he would be moved to fill other holes on the roster. Quite the opposite as it turns out, and he will in the fold long term.

Similarly Justin Schultz has recently heard his name thrown around as a piece land a bigger fish for Craig MacTavish. As with Gardiner, it would be very suprising to see Edmonton move a defenseman of his age and potential at any point soon.

Justin Schultz
Will Justin Schultz be signed to a long term deal? (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The issue with Schultz appears to be more of a case of a long term deal vs a short term bridge deal. Certainly both have their merits and the idea that Schultz may not have earned himself a long term deal yet is valid.

{See related: Edmonton Oilers: What is Justin Schultz Worth?}

The problem is that the Edmonton Oilers have trouble attracting players at the best of times, and when you have a player that chose you over 29 other teams, it’s a significant factor to consider.

Sure he has his defensive warts, but defensemen of his ability and potential are not easy to find. The Oilers have an impressive complement of defensive prospects in their system, however none are proven and none have the offensive abilities that Schultz has.

He may not have earned a long term deal in the eyes of many, but such is the business of the NHL. If they can sign him for a similar cap hit somewhere in the $4 million per range, it’s something they can live with.

Comparables on long term deals:

  • Jake Gardiner – 24 years old – $4.05M cap hit
  • Cam Fowler – 22 years old – $4M cap hit
  • Roman Josi – 24 years old – $4M cap hit
  • Alexei Emelin – 28 years old – $4.1 cap hit
  • Travis Hamonic – 23 years old – $3.857M cap hit

You can debate who warrants money more or less than Schultz on that list, and granted Schultz has played less games than some, but those are the comparables that will be used.

The Oilers will no doubt have to overpay somewhat with Schultz, but that is the unfortunate reality of doing business in Edmonton.

After all, if they can sign Nikita Nikitin for $4.5 million a season, they should be able to justify a deal for Justin Schultz.


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