Justin "Time" or Two Days Too Late?

If the Oilers have a shot at Justin Schultz, would there be any consideration at all for Ryan Murray?

The consensus among most scouts is that the Edmonton Oilers should draft Sarnia forward Nail Yakupov as the first overall pick. Despite the consensus, in recent weeks discussion has creeped in that because of the Oilers need to bolster their blue line, defenseman Ryan Murray may be their target. Murray of the Everett Silvertips is not considered the top pick -- perhaps not even the top defensman --, in this years draft. Yet, the Oilers have still invited Murray to Edmonton Friday for a visit and tour of the city and the Edmonton Oiler landscape.

While the idea of not taking Nail Yakupov has many fans beside themselves, would the Oilers be going to all this trouble if Justin Schultz, a college defenseman, was available and the Oilers knew they stood a great chance of landing him?

Schultz will be a hot commodity come his free agency eligibility. Choosing likely not to sign with Anaheim, the team who drafted him, Schultz will test the free agent waters and its likely that 29 other teams would love to have this kid. From all accounts, Schultz is a sure thing.

The problem is, unless the rights to negotiate with Schultz are traded for with Anaheim who doesn't obviously want to lose such a prospect for nothing, no team can technically talk to Justin prior to June 24th. That is two days after the NHL draft and for the Oilers, two days after they could pass up on the best young forward prospect available.

Not that adding Ryan Murray and Justin Schultz would hurt your club, but would you take Yakupov and Schultz or Murray and Schultz? Most would likely say one elite forward and one elite d-man makes more sense. The Oilers may not get that chance?

But, what happens if the Oilers don't have a shot at Schultz? What if they play their hand thinking they do and Schultz has every intention to sign in Detroit or Toronto? What if that happens and the Oilers draft Yakupov?

Sure, they'll get the best young forward, but their blue line will still be suspect and the success of their defense will rest on Steve Tamebillin's ability to make a trade or sign a UFA, which is much harder to do.

It's a tricky spot, where the only real solution seems to offer Anaheim something for the rights to negotiate. It might be worth it more to Edmonton than any other team to know where Schultz stands.


The Oilers GM is too gun shy to do what's right for building a competitive team. He'll take Yakupov because he doesn't know any better. He's only been good at one thing - winning the draft lottery and apparently that's good enough for an extension. You don't need to wait until June 24th to know about Justin Schultz - you've got the answer now. Why would he want to join an organization that's not being managed properly, or more accurately, not being managed at all?

June 7, 2012 at 9:03 AM comment-delete

I might suggest the question for Schultz is more about coaching than management. Schultz will want to play and earn himself a big fat contract based on his bonuses or point totals leading into his second contract out of entry level status.

Having a coach in place by June 24th to show Schultz that's a certainty might be wise.

June 7, 2012 at 9:28 AM comment-delete

I think the unspoken word in the NHL is that Justin Schultz has already picked a destination. That being said, regardless of where he goes the Oilers should take Yakupov. Having a great forward core and a very bad back-end is better than having an above average forward-core and a bad back-end. The only defender drafted in the top 2 to [almost] live up to the hype is Drew Doughty, and he's only really hit his stride because of a strong forward-core in LA. Justin Schultz could return Edmonton to the realm of "average" defenders, but they're likely a year or two from becoming good (if that's possible).

June 7, 2012 at 12:51 PM comment-delete

I've heard that too (that Schultz) knows where he wants to go, or at least that the Ducks have evidence of what they call tampering. Wouldn't it be something if that team was Edmonton?

I agree, take Yakupov. Figure out the rest. D-man are easier to grab via trade (or at least in theory) than elite forwards.

June 7, 2012 at 1:16 PM comment-delete

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