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

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Monday, 29 October 2012

10/29/12 Can Schultz Keep This Up?

Justin Schultz has been a dominant offensive force in the AHL to start his professional career. He's currently leading the league in scoring with 12 points in 7 games. So can he keep it up?

Just The Facts

Schultz has:

- 6 goals in 7 games
- 6 assists in 7 games
- a plus-4 rating
- 2 powerplay goals, 2 shorthanded goals
- 27 shots on goal in 7 games (3.9 per game!)
- A shooting percentage of 22.2%

So will he continue at this pace? The answer is most definitely no. He's currently on pace for 65 goals and 130 points. 22 of those goals would come on the powerplay. No big deal. And shots? At his current rate he'd finish with 293 shots on goal.

A little context:

No player in the AHL had more than 293 shots on goal last season, which means that Schultz would likely be at or near to the league lead in that category. Mark Barberio led all AHL defenders last season with 61 points in 74 games. Next closest was Brian Connelly with 52 points in 72 games, and the list runs down from there. Barberio was in his second full AHL season and Connelly was in his third. In the last six years no AHL defenseman has reached the 70 point mark.

So we can probably expect Justin Schultz to slow down considerably. But hopefully what we're seeing is the development of a young defenseman who will continue to be a force in a league just below the NHL. Obviously it's much better to see him make a smooth and even dominant transition to the pro game than to see him struggle, but the key will be to remember that it's a long year. Mistakes and cold spells will happen to any player, and with a start this hot it's bound to happen some time.

All that being said, this is a very impressive debut. It's easy to get excited about this player, even if he doesn't end up scoring 130 points.

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