Saturday, 1 June 2013

Should the Canadiens trade for Jeff Schultz?

I didn't come up with it, but the idea of the Canadiens trading for Jeff Schultz is being bounced around the blogosphere.  It's an intriguing idea, in that he's got one year left on his contract with the Capitals after which he could potentially be an unrestricted free agent.  At 6'6" and 230 lbs, he'd be a big missing piece on the Canadiens' blue line, a defensively-oriented big man, we can think of him maybe as a less accomplished Hal Gill who plays a bit more physical.

We're just spit-balling here, but he's a good buy-low candidate, in that he's been a healthy scratch often the last couple of seasons.  This doesn't exactly indicate that he's a world-beater, it doesn't speak highly of how well he's been playing, but that's part of the buy-low equation, and maybe it's just that the skills he brings to the table are already there for the Caps in John Erskine, Karl Azner and John Carlson, they already have their big bruising d-men who play big minutes.  Jeff Schultz may be left with no job to do, no role to perform, those three other gentlemen are already killing the penalties and standing in front of their net, minding the back end while Mike Green roams around.

On our team, he'd fill a vacant role, and have a chance to contribute.  Think of him as Washington's version of our Yannick Weber, who is not quite as good as P.K. or Andrei or Raphaël Diaz, so he sits a lot, but if you move him to a team that needs a righthanded point shot on the powerplay, suddenly he has a role and minutes to fill.  Same with Mr. Schultz and our roster, that needs some size on the back end.  Alexei Emelin is going to miss half the season, and will need to be monitored as to usage and minutes when he returns.  Josh Gorges can be steady and dependable on the back end, but struggles with big strong opponents, among other things.  Jarred Tinordi ideally should be in Hamilton to start the season and continue his apprenticeship.  If we had Jeff Schultz on the roster, we'd take care of these three concerns in one fell swoop.  He'd be more valuable to us than he is currently to the Caps.

Players such as Mr. Schultz, who are stuck at the bottom of their team's depth chart at least partially due to circumstances, are who we need to target in trades, and this goes for big wingers too.  There are probably quite a few of these languishing in the minors of their respective teams, big teams like the Sharks or Kings or Blues who are replete with sizeable forwards.  These buried players, who might now be thought of as never panning out, might if transplanted on the Canadiens have lots of opportunity to grow into a vacant role, and shine.

As I've mentioned before, some of these players we have lots of, the smaller shifty defencemen, and the smaller shifty forwards, who are good with the puck when they're not chewing on an opponent's CCM, might/must be swapped for what we need a lot more of.

So yes, Jeff Schultz, yes, if the price is right.  Like real cheap.  The Capitals might be motivated sellers, eager to rid themselves of his $2.75M cap hit, as they have to re-sign Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner and Matt Hendriks, among others, and only have $6M to do so.

And if they don't want Matt Hendricks, we'll take him too.

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