Well, if you're keeping track at home we're on Justin Schultz watch day ten officially. Judging by some of the tweets from members of the Badger men's hockey team, they are certainly having fun with the coverage that 'Schultz Watch' has gotten in the media.
As you're already aware Schultz has a year of eligibility left at Wisconsin, but is also deciding between turning professional immediately and playing with the Anaheim Ducks, or becoming a free agent over the summer.
TSN in Canada has broached the topic of Schultz a few times recently, and did so again on Wednesday. World renowned hockey analyst Bob McKenzie even grouped Schultz in with two of the best players in the world when talking about the Wisconsin junior today.
"Well (Ryan) Suter and (Zach) Parise are unquestionably the top two unrestricted free agents. I'm going out and suggesting very strongly that the third biggest name in free agency this year will be Anaheim second round pick Justin Schultz."
I'm not sure if you caught that, because I did a double take myself when I heard him say it. But McKenzie said that Wisconsin junior Justin Schultz will be the third biggest name on the free agent market this summer behind only Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Wow, just wow.
McKenzie went on to imply that it's all but a certainty that Schultz is going to forgo his senior season at Wisconsin, bypass the Ducks, and choose the NHL franchise he wants to play for this summer.
"(Schultz) recently concluded his season with the University of Wisconsin. (Schultz) has the option to sign with the Ducks right now if he so chooses, or go to unrestricted free agency on July 1st. And I'm saying that because he has not signed with the Ducks at this point in time, there is every indication that Schultz is going to go to unrestricted free agency. We talked about it last week, this is a big blow to Anaheim, but he is headed to the free agent market."
That's pretty much what I had alluded to in my article last week. If Schultz was going to sign with Anaheim, he likely would have done so by now. The way the NHL salary system is run is by days on the roster. So for every day that he's not signed, he's losing upwards of $5,000.
While it would certainly be commendable to hang out with his teammates for a few weeks after the season was over, I'm much more certain they would like him to bank as much money as he can before the end of the season, and come back and throw one huge party for the boys during Mifflin.
You hear all the rumors, "Oh, he's taking finals," or "He's on vacation." News flash folks, finals are in May. Spring break is not for a week and a half.
I checked back with my sources on Schultz on Tuesday and they confirmed that nothing had changed in terms of him signing with Anaheim any time soon. The longer this drags on, the more obvious it is that he's headed to free agency this summer, which is what McKenzie was alluding to.
Ducks fans are certainly still holding out hope, and I commend them for it even though it may be a lost cause.
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