Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with defenseman Justin Schultz.
"This is a massive day for the Oilers just from the fact that it's confirmation that people, players are excited," Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini said. "He's going to be a big piece of this hockey club. We look forward to seeing him in an Oilers uniform this fall."
Schultz, 22, was a 2008 second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, but, because of a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement, became a free agent following the 2012 NHL Draft. Because he never signed with the Ducks, Schultz could only sign an entry-level contract."
The offensive-minded defenseman spent the last three seasons playing at the University of Wisconsin, where he led the Badgers with 16 goals and posted 44 points in 37 games.
"I've always been an offensive defenseman," Schultz said. "I like to get up in the play. I like to score goals."
Schultz indicated that there were no guarantees regarding where he will start the 2012-13 season.
"I made it perfectly clear and they did as well," Schultz said. "There's no guarantees in this game and what you get. I don't want to be that guy with the guaranteed spot."
The highly-touted 6'2, 185-pound prospect will join Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent- Hopkins and Taylor Hall, who represent the last three No. 1 overall picks of the NHL Draft.
"They have a good, solid core of young prospects," Schultz said. "That's intriguing to me."
The British Columbia native generated significant interest around the league and reportedly met with the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks before ultimately deciding to join the Oilers.
"It was a pretty big cheer when we found out Justin confirmed he was coming to the Oilers," Tambellini said. "This wasn't a decision based on the financials. Everybody has the same terms and the same amount. I think what it came down to was that he saw the right type of opportunity with the right age of the team. The fact that he could grow with this team was a massive part of the decision."
The Oilers utilized Hall and Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey to help make their pitch to Schultz.
"It was important that Taylor Hall was there. He spent time with him, he spoke to him. He connected at a player level," Tambellini said. "I'm not sure he heard anything that Wayne said, probably so excited that Wayne called. And Paul Coffey, for such a prominent player for the Edmonton Oilers and a similar type of defenseman, I'm sure that carried a lot of weight."