Edmonton fans around the world sighed in relief at the news that 25-year-old defenseman Justin Schultz would be leaving for greener pastures in Pittsburgh. This is not because they wish him well (well, maybe they do), but more because Schultz is a career -73 player, and holds an astounding -22 this season. Yes, that is the +/- for an actual NHL defender, one who managed to fetch a 3rd round pick, even if the Oilers did agree to retain 50% of his salary. For many Edmonton fans, that’s a steal to be rid of Schultz.
So what are the Penguins thinking here? It’s hard to say. Maybe the Penguins scouts see some hidden promise in Schultz. Maybe they’re hoping he’s young enough to reap the benefits of play time with veterans and thrive under the inherent hope of going from the perennial rebuilding of Edmonton to a playoff contender. Hell, maybe this is just a rental until Lovejoy gets back.
Time will tell if the move makes any sense, but I will say this: it’s nice to see the Pens doing… something… about their defense.