Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz sat down on his couch on Saturday afternoon to watch Hockey Night in Canada.
He flipped on the TV in time to catch the ending of the Penguins’ 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. What he didn’t realize at the time was that he was watching his new team in action.
Shortly, after the game concluded he began receiving text messages of congratulations.
Confused, Schultz jumped onto Twitter. It was there that he learned that he had been traded by the Oilers to Pittsburgh in exchange for a 2016 third-round pick.
Schultz (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) even watched the panel on HNC discuss the trade before he received a call from Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli to officially inform him of the news.
“I knew (a trade) was coming the last three, four days. It was just a waiting game,” Schultz told the Penguins’ official website. “I’m just glad to have it over with and know where I’m going. Now that I know it is Pittsburgh, I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a fresh start. I can’t wait to get down there.”
Schultz, 25, has played three-plus seasons in Edmonton, totaling 28 goals and 101 points in 248 regular-season games. He has three goals and 10 points 45 contests this season.
The Oilers finished the past three years at the bottom of the NHL standings. Schultz now will play for a team that is playoff team every season.
“It’s crazy the turnaround. It’s going to be awesome to get there and finish the regular season off, and hopefully go on a Cup run,” Schultz said. “I haven’t been in the playoffs in a while being here so it’s exciting. You don’t want to have those long summers. You want to keep playing hockey as long as you can. Hopefully, we go long this year.”
Schultz will fit in perfectly in the Pens’ new system under head coach Mike Sullivan, which is built on breakout passes and speed through the neutral zone. Both areas play to Schultz’s strengths.
“I’m a puck-mover, mobile defenseman,” he said. “I like to get up on the rush and join the offense. I have to work on my defensive game and being a good, solid, two-way defender. Hopefully, I can help the team out anyway that I can.”
Schultz will not be able to arrive in Pittsburgh until Wednesday or Thursday as immigration paperwork is handled. Until then, Schultz will workout and just wait.
“Hopefully, it’s fast and smooth and I can get there as quickly as I can,” he said.
As Schultz, a Kelowna, British Columbia native, gets ready to turn the page on his career, he’s looking forward to starting over with a new team and new city. And most importantly, put the past behind him.
“It’s been weird the last couple of days with everything that’s been going on, seeing the potential trades and actually finding out that you’ve been traded on Twitter,” Schultz said. “It’s pretty weird, but I am excited.
“It’s exciting for me, a fresh start with a very good team. I’m excited for the opportunity.”