Caps Sign Schultz
Below is the press release from the Capitals on the Jeff Schultz inking:
The Washington Capitals have signed defenseman Jeff Schultz to a four-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Schultz, 24, played 73 games for the Capitals in 2009-10 and led the NHL with a +50 rating, the best single-season rating in franchise history. He became the first defenseman to lead the NHL in plus/minus rating since 2005-06 (Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden) and the first Capital to lead the league in that category. Offensively he recorded career highs in assists (20) and points (23) and averaged a career-high 19:51 of ice time per game. He led the team with 129 blocked shots.
The Calgary, Alberta, native was the Capitals’ first-round choice, 27th overall, in the 2004 Entry Draft. He has played in 247 career games for Washington, recording 56 points (nine goals, 47 assists) and just 97 penalty minutes. He has a +80 rating in his career.
COMMENTS: According to Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, the dollars for the deal are $2.5M in the first two years, then $3M in the final two years for an annual salary cap hit of $2.75M. Schultz had a career campaign in 2009-10 after starting the season as a healthy scratch in the season opener in Boston. He quickly beat out Shaone Morrisonn as Mike Green’s regular defensive partner making #26 expendable. Schultz, who can be a lightning rod for criticism from some media and fans, is a puck moving defenseman who uses his size (6′ 6″) and reach to neutralize opponents. He is not a physical defenseman nor is he fleet of the foot, but he is effective when on his game.
Unfortunately he has struggled in the post season, but you could make a decent list of other Caps who would join him on the playoff underachievers club. While some may find the numbers higher than expected, especially given that “Sarge” only made $715K in 2009-10, he has become a top 4 defenseman and compared to the Jeff Finger (4 years, $14M) and Mike Commodore (4 years, $15M) deals that Toronto and Columbus gave out, respectively, in the summer of 2008, this appears to be a steal. In addition, by locking up Schultz for four years the Capitals keep Sarge an extra year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent, so the 2004 1st round draft choice (27th overall) will not have a chance to hit the open market until he is 28 in 2014.
Also, there may be some who are concerned that tying up this much money in #55 might impact the future contracts for young defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Alzner, who has an estimated salary cap hit of $1.6M after bonuses for 2010-11, can become a restricted free agent after this upcoming season. Carlson, who has an estimated salary cap figure of just under $850K, is eligible to become a restricted free agent after the 2011-12 season. However, Tom Poti, who currently is a cap hit of $3.5M, will become an unrestricted free agent after 2010-11 and it is expected that the Caps will not have much interest in a then 34 year old d-man, unless he takes a significant pay cut. Thus much of the Poti freed up dollars will be used for expected increases to King Karl and the 2010 World Junior Championships American Hero.
Notes: In other Caps organizational news, the 2010 Calder Cup Champion HERSHEY BEARS announced today in conjunction with the Washington Capitals that the club has signed left wing Kyle Greentree and defenseman Brian Fahey. Greentree has signed a two-year agreement, while Fahey has signed for the 2010-11 season. The announcement was made today by BEARS President/GM Doug Yingst.
Greentree, 26, led Rockford (AHL) with 25 goals in 64 games last season. The 6’3”, 215-pound left wing has played four games in the NHL, two with Philadelphia in 2007-08 and two with Calgary in 2008-09. His most prolific goal scoring season as a professional came two years ago, scoring 39 goals for Quad City (AHL). Greentree made his AHL debut with the Philadelphia Phantoms during the 2006-07 campaign.
Fahey, 29, played last season with Lake Erie (AHL), where he had 11 goals and 25 points in 71 games. A blueliner for the BEARS briefly during the 2003-04 season, he enjoyed his best season as a professional while skating for Chicago (AHL) in 2007-08. Fahey scored 14 goals and assisted on 37 others that season for the Wolves during the regular season, and helped Chicago win the Calder Cup. He was also a four-year standout for the University of Wisconsin, playing in 156 games during his time in Madison.