OTTAWA - Justin Schultz has whittled his short list.
The Senators are on it.
Sources have confirmed that Ottawa will be among the teams making a presentation to the unrestricted free agent defenceman in an attempt to get his name on a contract, perhaps by the weekend.
Schultz, who has notched 34 goals and 91 points in 78 NCAA games for the Wisconsin Badgers over the last two seasons, is expected to play and make an impact in the NHL immediately.
The four other teams on Schultz’s radar are the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. Reports indicate the Rangers and Edmonton made presentations Thursday in Toronto, and that the Oilers contingent included star winger Taylor Hall.
The Senators did not see Schultz Thursday.
It’s still believed the West Kelowna, B.C. native wants to play in Canada. He was a second-round pick (43rd overall) of Anaheim’s in 2008, but refused to sign with the Ducks.
He became a free agent Monday.
While Schultz will receive the same money on an entry-level contract no matter where he signs, the recently-turned 22-year-old could be looking for the opportunity to play a major role and the chance have team and personal success.
In Ottawa, he’d get each.
Senators GM Bryan Murray and assistant GM Tim Murray have a history of convincing undrafted college players to buy into their program, including Dan Boyle, Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, Curtis Glencross and Ryan Shannon, as well as current Senators Jesse Winchester, Bobby Butler and Stephane Da Costa.
The Murrays also made a less publicized catch when they plucked forward Cory Schneider from the University of Connecticut last season. Schneider, a native of Williamsville, N.Y., led the Huskies in scoring during the 2011-12 campaign with 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points in 38 games.
He finished the season playing for the Senators’ AHL team in Binghamton, registering just two assists in 11 games.
A handful of other teams were trying to get Schneider to leave school early to play pro hockey.
“They were trying to keep it quiet,” the 21-year old Schneider said of his coaches Thursday at the Senators development camp. “They didn’t really want to tell me. They were trying to keep me in school, but I know that at least four were trying to talk to my agent.”
What made the Senators offer more appealing than the others?
“They just went over with my agent about all the guys that had come up through the system, about how well they develop guys, all the guys that are on the NHL team now,” said the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder. “They thought it was the best fit for me. That’s how they came up with it.
“It was pretty quick.”
Tim Murray, who believes Schneider will develop, calls him a “raw talent.” Schneider noted there was an adjustment to be made playing in the AHL.
“It’s a little faster, so I’ve got stuff to work on this summer,” he said. “But I can handle it. It’s just (a matter of) taking a little time to get used to it.”
He said his main plan for next season was “just trying and help the team win.”
Can he become a goal scorer for the B-Sens the way he was in college hockey?
“Let’s get one first,” Schneider said with a laugh.