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Report: Schultz to make decision on Saturday

by John Kreiser

Blue-chip defense prospect Justin Schultz reportedly will decide on Saturday which team he'll sign with.


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According to a tweet from TSN's Bob McKenzie, "Free agent defenceman Justin Schultz will decide tomorrow where he's signing." He cannot actually put his name on a contract until Sunday, when free agency begins.

TSN's Darren Dreger reported Friday that the Edmonton Oilers, one of the teams reportedly on Schultz's short list, brought in a couple of big guns to make their case -- both Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey talked with him.

Schultz, a defenseman drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round in 2007, has blossomed into what some scouts regard as the best player not currently in the NHL.

Schultz measured just over 6 feet tall and 163 pounds when the Ducks drafted him from the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League five years ago. After one more season in the BCHL, Schultz enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, where his body grew to match his skills. During the 2011-12 season, his third with the Badgers, he was listed at 6-2 and 185 pounds.

The 21-year-old led all NCAA defensemen in goals (16), points (44) and power-play goals (seven) last season, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the second straight season. He's also a two-time winner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Defensive Player of the Year award, and a two-time member of the WCHA First All-Star Team.

With nothing left to prove at the collegiate level, Schultz chose to withdraw from school following his junior year. When he couldn't reach a deal with the Ducks during a 30-day negotiating window, Schultz became an unrestricted free agent. Schultz is limited to a two-year, entry-level contract, so he's most likely looking for a team that can offer him a top-four defense spot. Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, the New York Rangers and Ottawa reportedly are among the teams he's most interested in.

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