a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 30 June 2012

06/30/12 Schultz and the Transforming Oilers

With Justin Schultz deciding to join the Oilers on Saturday, a message has been sent to the league. The team has been completely transformed in a few short seasons. Here's what it could all look like.

Earlier this month I looked at the defensive depth chart without Schultz. Now that he's officially an Oiler, here's how it breaks down:

Ryan Whitney Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz Justin Schultz
Ladislav Smid Corey Potter
Andy Sutton Taylor Fedun
Theo Peckham Colten Teubert
Martin Marincin Alex Plante
Brandon Davidson
Oscar Klefbom

Losing Tom Gilbert doesn't look as bad now that Schultz has entered the fold. Gilbert is probably a better all-around talent, but Schultz has much higher offensive potential. From an NHLNumbers article by Thomas Drance:

"The data indicates that there's no one in the world who both: has a better point shot than Justin Schultz, and wasn't playing in the National Hockey League last season..."

That's high praise, backed up by observation of the player and scoring data that we have available to analyze. None of it means that he's a lock to be the next Erik Karlsson, but it does show that he's a high-end prospect who is ready for the NHL, and he fits the Oilers' needs perfectly.

This doesn't mean that it no longer makes sense to pursue a player like Ryan Suter, but having Schultz makes the situation less desperate. It also means that the Oilers won't have to overpay for the likes of Jason Garrison, who will almost certainly receive a boatload of money and term on Sunday.

This signing is a huge win for the team. Not only could it change the perception of the Oilers among free agents, but it shows that what is happening here is worth joining. Even better, Schultz fills an obvious hole on the back end and is young enough to grow with this group for years to come.

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