As of 12:00am EST tonight, Justin Schultz is no longer Anaheim Ducks property, and he owes the Ducks nothing. As much as that stings to write, it's true.
Justin was faced with a choice: stay with the team that drafted you (ahead of almost all other teams) or explore the open market. That's the great thing about being human, freedom of choice ... except when it goes against what you want.
We've heard Bob Murray's side. He's disappointed at the way things have transpired. While he may not have said it outright, it's not hard to conclude that he believes Justin lied to him, Bruce, Todd Marchant, and the Archangel Scott Niedermayer. To be quite honest, I kind of believe that too, but of course, that's speculation.
On June 4th, I emailed Schultz's agent, Wade Arnott with Newport Sports Management, and asked him a couple questions. 1) What's the current state of the negotiations with the Ducks? 2) Are you aware of any verbal commitments Justin made to Ducks officials while still a student at University of Wisconsin? 3) How has the trade of Jake Gardiner impacted Justin's decision whether or not to sign with Anaheim? I did not receive a response.
Does silence speak volumes? Sure, I'm just a random blogger, but what about when it comes to the Ducks? Murray's comments at Select-a-Seat insinuated that all communication between the two parties has dried up; however, Murray was committed to continue to offer Schultz deals right up until the deadline.
Another question I wrestle with is that of Justin's character. As I said earlier, he had a choice. He chose to use a loophole in the CBA to explore his other options in the NHL. It's a perfect storm of events. Who knows what his agent whispered in his ear once he officially left school. The Ducks stated publicly that money was never the issue. They were willing to pay Justin the max. It was the choice of who to play for that likely peaked Justin's interest more. Look at the Ducks right now. They're not rebuilding, but they certainly are in a state of flux. On Friday, Bobby Ryan threw a temper tantrum to the media, displaying his unhappiness with management. Is this just not something Justin wants to get involved in? Who knows.
So, where will Justin end up? Our buddies at Copper & Blue (Edmonton) are pretty sure they'll get him. So are the guys from Pension Plan Puppets (Toronto). I'm hedging my bets and saying that Mr. Schultz will end up in...Toronto. Having both Jake Gardiner and Brian Burke in one place is just too much of a 'coincidence' for Justin to not sign there. Unless there is a 'smoking gun', it's going to be really difficult for the Ducks to prove tampering.
Remember, if the [hockey] glove don't fit, you must acquit.