Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Wisconsin's Justin Schultz opts for Oilers, not NYR
The Rangers pursued him, but Wisconsin free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz, one of the top college prospects, today agreed to an entry-level deal with the Edmonton Oilers.
Schultz, 21, who was born in British Columbia, decided after pitches from six teams this week, including the Rangers. The other contenders were the Maple Leafs, the Senators, the Canucks and the Wild. The decision allows the spurned teams, like the Rangers, to adjust their plans when free agency begins Sunday at noon.
The Rangers are hoping to acquire a right-handed defenseman to play behind Dan Girardi. Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto are all left-handed shooters. But their main target remains a scoring forward.
Schultz, who withdrew from school after his junior year, led all NCAA defensemen in goals (16), points (44) and power-play goals (seven) last season, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the second consecutive season. He had 40 goals and 113 points in 121 games for the Badgers and is projected as a top-four blueliner.
Listed at 6-2 and 185 pounds, Schultz will be paid $975,000 per season, including a signing bonus, plus performance bonuses with a maximum of $2.85 million. He joins a club with strong, young front-line forwards such as Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and No. 1 pick in last week’s draft, Nail Yakupov, and with openings on defense.
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round in 2007 (No. 43 overall), Schultz couldn't reach a deal with the Ducks during a recent 30-day negotiating window, and became an unrestricted free agent.