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Tough Decisions: Is this Schultz’s Last Ride with the Penguins?



Pittsburgh Penguins Justin Schultz
Pittsburgh Penguins Justin Schultz: Video Stills from PHN. All Rights Reserved

The conclusion to the NHL season isn’t like the abbreviated and crammed MLB attempt at a return to play. The NHL season was all ready into its final 12-14 games before the coronavirus blew the whistle. The coming offseason will be a whirlwind of free agency, the draft, and refiring training camps set against a flat salary cap, which will force general managers into hard decisions they may not have expected. That flat cap combined with performance could mean the end of Justin Schultz with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford scooped Schultz from Edmonton at the low point of his career in 2016. The formerly heralded college free agent who surprisingly chose Edmonton over serious suitors across the league was thrust into a top-four role and tasked with providing offense from the blue line for a stumbling team.

By the time Schultz came to Pittsburgh four years later, the blog moniker, “worst defenseman in the NHL,” was beginning to stick amongst fans. However, Schultz rebounded with the Penguins, won two Stanley Cups, and was rewarded with a market value, but short three-year, $16.5 million deal.

And with that deal has come worlds of bad luck and slumps.

To fully answer the Shultz question, we must look at his performance against his potential and the contracts of similar defensemen. Is this his last ride in black and gold?

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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