Nick Schultz and Tom Gilbert are both 29 years old and have spent their entire careers in one city. Now they might want to consider exchanging keys to their homes.
Edmonton and Minnesota swapped the defensemen on Monday, as the offensive-minded Gilbert is headed to the Wild in exchange for defensive-minded Schultz. Both players have two more years remaining on their respective contracts, with Gilbert's calling for a cap hit of $4 million while Schultz comes with a $3.5 million hit.
"This is all I know," a shocked Schultz told Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune upon learning of the trade.
Schultz is the Wild career leader in games played with 743 while Gilbert, who is from Bloomington, Minn., has played all of his 384 NHL games with the Oilers. Gilbert has 17 points in 47 games this season; Schultz has just 3 points in 62 games, but he's not considered an offensive threat. He instead leaves the Wild as their leading shot blocker with 121 this season.
Schultz ironically scored his only goal of the season on Sunday. It was his first goal since Jan. 2, 2011.
"Good way to end it," Schultz said.
Gilbert has amassed 33 goals and 158 points in his career, but his offensive production has dipped in each of the past three seasons after he put up a career-best 45 points, including 40 assists, as a second-year player in 2008-09. He signed a six-year, $24 million contract extension after he set an Oilers' rookie defensemen record with 13 goals in 2007-08.
Gilbert has been leading the Oilers in ice time per game this season (22:47), but he played only 13:51 in Saturday's game against Phoenix. He missed more than a month with an ankle injury before returning Feb. 6. Schultz has averaged 19:35 per game for the Wild.
"He was a big part of this team, so it's tough to see him go," Oilers forward Ryan Jones said according to the team's official Twitter feed. "But, he's a Minnesota boy so I'm also happy for him."
The Wild players were shocked.
"He's what this organization is all about," Clutterbuck told Russo. "Has been for 10 years."
He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.
— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson