Sabres Trade Targets: Justin Schultz

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Almost four years ago, most of the NHL was clamoring to get their hands on Justin Schultz. After not signing with Anaheim throughout his incredible college career, Schultz went to free agency and latched on with the Oilers. 

Fast forward 244 NHL games, and Schultz has not lived up to the hype. However, he hasn't been completley useless. Schultz has 100 points in those four seasons. His rookie season has been his best offensively, when he had 8 goals and 19 assists in 48 games back in 2012-13. 

This year Schultz has not looked good with just 3 goals and 9 points in 41 games. He has also battled a back injury causing him to miss 19 games. 

Now on the defensive end, Schultz has been flat out bad for pretty much his entire career. He's a minus 73 for his career, and his advanced stats are far from flattering as well. 

The defenseman he's played with the most in his career, Nick Schultz, has better stats when he's not playing with Justin Schultz. Together they had 545 minutes, 32.7% Goals for and a 45.4% Corsi. Nick Schultz without Justin had 189 minutes, 54.5% Goals for and a 47.7% Corsi.

The Edmonton Journal has a more in depth piece of how poorly Schultz's advanced stats have been.

The Sabres could get Schultz cheap. He will be a RFA at the end of the season, and Edmonton may not even offer him a qualifying offer. There's no way the Oilers can want a lot for him. Could Johan Larsson straight up get it done? What about Evan Rodrigues or William Carrier? Either Larsson, also due to be an RFA, who is young and could use a change of scenary or a C level prospect forward who has yet to make the NHL. 

Right now, Schultz is nothing more than a third paring, offensive specialist on the backend. Can he further develop and live up to the hype that surrounded him coming into the league? At the age of 25, soon to be 26, the answer is almost certainlty no. However, he should cost next to nothing to get him in Buffalo, and if he did become consistent enough to be a top four defenseman it would be a steal. 

If Edmonton doesn't qualify Schultz in the offseason, assuming he wouldn't be traded, Tim Murray could try to bring him in as a free agent for cheap. Considering defense is a huge need for the Sabres right now, any risk is worth taking right now. It also wouldn't hurt to get Zach Bogosian off the second powerplay unit.