Friday, June 29, 2012

Justin Schultz: The Great White Hype

As NHL free agency fast approaches, my Twitter feed is being clogged up with minute by minute updates of what teams may or may not be on college defenseman Justin Schultz negotiating list. Of all the pending unrestricted free agents, it is absurd how much attention is being given to this one player who has never played a game at the professional level. Yes, his point production in the NCAA was near the high end of what you'll find in college historically. Of all the defensemen drafted to the NHL from 1990 - 2005 who played in the NCAA, only six players had a higher points per game average than Schultz. Those six players (in order) were Chris O'Sullivan, Mike Crowley, Brian Mueller, Matt Carle, Mike Mottau, and Nick Naumenko. Now how many of those guys have you heard of? (hint: only 2 have played more than 70 NHL games, 4 are currently inactive)

Schultz has maybe a 15% chance of being as good as Matt Carle, who also happens to be a free agent this summer. Yet Schultz is receiving 99% more media coverage than Carle, an established, proven, effective NHL player. If I were a GM in the NHL, I'd much rather have the real thing than an over-hyped prospect who could very well turn out to be ineffective at the NHL level (Q: how many goals did Fabian Brunnstrom and Christian Hanson score in the NHL last season? A: zero). Yes, Schultz will be on an entry level deal and cost less than Carle, but the latter has a higher probability of making a substantial quality contribution to his team in the next few years. There is an 83% chance that Schultz will be a significant point producer in the AHL, should he ever play in the minors (since it seems as though his agent is negotiating NHL roster guarantees).

I won't go as far as some pundits and speculate that all the hype is going to ruin this young player. I'm just getting sick and tired of the wall to wall media coverage. I unfollowed Pierre LeBrun on Twitter today for this exact reason. He could very well turn out to be everything that's been advertised, but it is far from a sure thing and not worthy of the attention he's been getting. Enough already.

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