September 11, 2012
Oilers' newest D-man Justin Schultz settling into Edmonton
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
It was nice for Justin Schultz to get away.
For someone that has yet to play a professional hockey game, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman garnered a lot of attention this summer with what became the NHL's version of The Decision.
In the end, the Oilers were delighted the talented defenceman out of the University of Wisconsin decided to bring his talents to Edmonton.
"It's nice to finally get out here, meet some of the guys and get out of the ice with them," said Schultz after skating with a group of Oilers at a south side arena on Monday. "It's been a while. It's nice to be here."
A second-round pick 1/3 43rd overall 1/3 of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Schultz created a free-agent frenzy in May when he left school.
Having failed to come to terms on a contract with the Ducks, the B.C. product was free to sign with whom he wished, attracting a long list of suitors.
With his decision to join the Oilers, Schultz, 22, gave the club another piece of a rebuilding puzzle loaded with young talent.
Unfortunately, with an impending lockout on the horizon, it may be a while before that talent is on display together in Edmonton this season.
"It's tough. I'll be playing hockey no matter what, but I just hope this gets done here and we can get to playing the game we love," Schultz said. "If there's a lockout, I'll be going to Oklahoma City. I've heard it's nice. They have a good group of guys down there and Ebs (Jordan Eberle) was telling me it's a nice place to play."
Monday was the first time Schultz had an opportunity to get on the ice with some of his new teammates.
The former NCAA standout spent the majority of the summer working out with college teammates in Wisconsin, before arriving in Edmonton.
"You watch those guys on TV and getting a chance to go out and skate with them, it's pretty cool," Schultz said after the session. "I'm glad to be in town, I'm just kind of getting used to the streets, trying not to get lost around here. I'm just kind of getting to know the city and skating and getting to know the guys."
With all the hype surrounding his signing this summer, there'll be high expectations on Schultz once the season does get underway.
With few having access to Wisconsin Badgers hockey in Edmonton, there's still some mystery surrounding one of the most sought-after free agents this off-season.
"I'm looking forward to the year, I'm a bit both nervous and excited," he said. "It's a step up, guys are going to be bigger and stronger so it's going to be an adjustment for me for sure. I'm excited to get it started soon."