From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every player* who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Jeff Schultz.
Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $650,000 (cap hit of $763,888.89 or $750,000, depending upon whom you believe); RFA after 2008-09 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 22
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 1+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 72 games played, 5 goals, 13 assists, +12, 28 PIMs
Key Stat: Schultz lead all Caps blueliners in plus/minus.
Don't Forget: Schultz is more than four months younger than Mike Green and more than five months younger than Alex Ovechkin.
The Good: With just 38 NHL games under his belt entering the season, Schultz stepped in and lead the D in plus/minus (for a second conecutive season) averaged more than 18 minutes of ice time, tied for second among Caps defensemen in goals and was third in points among that group. Surprisingly (to me, at least), Schultz was on the ice for the fourth-most goals for per sixty minutes of ice time of any skater on the team, behind only Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov and Nicklas Backstrom. And while it may not always look pretty, Schultz now has a career plus-17 rating in 110 NHL games (this after totalling a plus-21 rating in the AHL and a plus-45 career in the WHL). Back to 2007-08, Schultz's shooting percentage was tops among Caps rearguards, he was third on the team in blocked shots and had the fewest PIMs per game of any of the team's defensemen. Oh, and he tied for the team lead in faceoff percentage. Schultz had four goals in a six-game stretch in December and had a plus-rating in each of the season's final four months (and a plus-16 rating in his final 43 games if the regular season).
The Bad: Schultz had the second-worst takeaway-to-giveaway ratio on the club (only Milan Jurcina was worse) and took the fewest shots per game on the team. He is currently on a 45-game goal-less streak and was healthy-scratched four times (though only once after November).
The Vote: Rate Schultz on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Questions: What role do you see Schultz having on the 2008-09 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?
If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.
* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.