Schultz a straight shooter
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s all starting to sink in for Nick Schultz.
Having spent his entire career with the Minnesota Wild, it took time for things to register with the Saskatchewan native after being traded to the Edmonton Oilers.
At first, he had trouble believing it.
“I was pretty much in shock,” said Schultz, who was introduced to the local media Tuesday. “When (Wild GM) Chuck (Fletcher) called me in and told me, I didn’t even know what to say. I thought he was joking to tell you the truth. I thought maybe April had come early and it was an April Fool’s joke.
“It was tough, because we were coming off of practice and all the guys were there and right away it hit me. Then it was on TV too so everybody knows about it. It was a lot going on right away, so you’re in that shock mode until you realize what was happening and what was going on.”
Having had a chance to digest the news, gather his belongings and make the trek to Edmonton, Schultz has warmed to the idea of playing for the Oilers.
He grew up an Oilers fan and has plenty of friends and family members scattered throughout the prairies.
On Tuesday, he got his first tour of the Oilers looker room and will be in the lineup Wednesday when the team hosts the St. Louis Blues.
“It’s been an exciting day,” Schultz said. “Obviously (Monday) was tough, being in an organization for my entire career and leaving, that was tough.
“But coming into the locker room today it’s exciting. Getting a chance to come in here and get to know some of the staff, is good. It’s fun to be here, I’m looking forward to moving forward and getting into some games.”
Schultz will wear 15 for the Oilers, a number last occupied by Joffrey Lupul.
He is expected to provide defensively stability to the Oilers blue line, which sacrificed some offense with Tom Gilbert in the exchange.
“As much as we lost a good player, you can’t help but wonder how Nick Schultz fits into the equation and how much he helps and fortifies our look on the back end in games like this, down the stretch when it’s tight,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney, following Tuesday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets. “He’s just a really good, experienced guy and it’s not his first rodeo. I think he’ll be a really big help to us in these types of circumstances.”
With just two assists on the year, Schultz does not stray far out of his own end.
But with Ryan Whitney and the immergence of Jeff Petry, the Oilers felt their bases were covered in the way of offensive-defenceman.
They needed a shutdown guy who can be used against the opponent’s top lines.
Schultz is not a sexy player, but he’s very effective.
“I think they have a lot of sexy players right now,” Schultz said. “From what I hear on the ice they’re great. They have some great talent up front and some great players. I’m not flashy in that regard, so if you’re coming to see flashy, you’re not going to see that from me.
“But what makes good team is that players come in and they understand their role and they understand what they can do for the team. You need all types of players and you just want to integrate yourself to a team and be a part of it and hopefully help out.”
With the Oilers having taken the day off Tuesday, Schultz had to wait before he was able to get out on the ice with the rest of his new teammates.
He has some familiarity with Renney, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth, having been a member of world championship teams with the trio. Schultz hopes that familiarity helps him integrate smoothly with the club.
“I just want to play consistent and be steady and be reliable,” he said. “In the NHL, it’s a long, tough season and you have to be ready to go out and perform every night. I just try to be consistent, bring that work ethic, be reliable for the coaching staff and be a guy that can be counted on in every situation.”