The decision of the highly-touted 22-year-old unrestricted free agent defenceman, Justin Schultz, to forgo his home-province team, the Vancouver Canucks, and sign with the youthful Edmonton Oilers isn't going to hurt the Canucks. Not now it isn't.
Yes, as Vancouver sports columnist Tony Gallagher pointed out Saturday, the Canucks are not stocked with young talent and once the Sedins, 31, and the oft-injured Ryan Kesler, bow out, they might be in trouble. By then Bieksa, Burrows and Hamhuis will also be on the way out, and others, and it doesn't look as if the young players with the AHL Chicago Wolves are capable of replacing that amount of talent.
Vancouver Canucks: Stanley Cup contenders
But if the organization now lacks high-level prospects - and they do - that is because, well, it's now. They're a contender and GM Mike Gillis, along with Dave Nonis and Brian Burke, have built the Canucks to win during this particular era in their history and another 3 or so years with this core roster gets them another 3 or so years with a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.
Schultz is a bona-fide top 4 defenceman in the waiting, but he's still 'in the waiting'. His top level of play is the WCHA, U.S. college hockey and he's not ready to make an impact this season, or likely next (note he signed for just two years, so if it doesn't go well in Edmonton...). Remember the last 22-year-old unrestricted free-agent that set off a bidding war? Fabian Brunnstrom had multiple suitors and, with comparisons to Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, signed with the Dallas Stars in 2008, scoring a hat-trick in his first NHL game. In his 103 NHL games since he's managed only 16 more and is now a minor-leaguer.
Phenom on the power-play or not, while Vancouver is having repeated runs at the Cup over the next three plus years with the group of core players they have now, Justin Schultz will be transitioning to a professional, not making a difference on a contending NHL blueline.
Canuck options for 2012-13
The Canucks have options. Another B.C. boy, Jason Garrison, 27, a defenceman coming off of a great season in Florida, a power-play play specialist, is out there. Ryan Suter is a possibility. And Roberto Luongo is going to be traded and when he does there is every chance that he'll bring a strong NHL player and prospect in return.
Edmonton is understandably happy to add another player, one that may well become a star, and at the cost of nothing but the terms of an entry-level contract. But the Vancouver Canucks are in the hunt for a Stanley Cup now and Justin Schultz wasn't about to help achieve that, so failing to sign him hurts them not one whit.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com