Fantasy Impact: The Penguins re-sign unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz for one year at $1.4 million.
In general, we don't break down a move when a player signs with the same team, but if it's a little unexpected and has fantasy implications, such as with Steven Stamkos (analysis here), then we will. The expected moves (we all knew Shane Doan was staying in Arizona) we'll leave.
The Penguins get: an offense-oriented defenseman with a lot of untapped upside, but has been a big disappointment so far. That being said, under Coach Mike Sullivan, Schultz rebounded nicely – to the point of actually looking quite good as an NHLer. He had eight points in 18 games (plus-7) after joining the team, followed by four points in 15 playoff games (plus-1). Of those 33 games he's played with the Penguins, in just five of them did he see at least 60% of the power-play time. He picked up three points in those five games. For the most part, he'll be used on the second power-play unit, so don't expect any miracles. Just a proper implementation of a player with his skill set.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Kudos to Schultz and his agent for staying with the same team at what was probably a small pay cut. Maybe another team would have paid him $1.8 million, but he wouldn't have found much more than that and he certainly wouldn't have found a situation that would get his career back on track. With the Penguins I would expect a modest 34 to 37 points and a nice plus-10 to plus-15 rating under that coaching system. That should be more than enough to give him a better contract next summer. And if Kris Letang were to get injured, then Schultz would be able to step in and fill the void for a couple of games. He wouldn't be able to manage it long term, but for the short term he could do it just fine.
The big question marks here are Trevor Daley, who was doing great in Pittsburgh filling that Schultz role, and Derrick Pouliot, who was an elite prospect that got derailed a little bit last season beginning with a weak training camp. Daley had 22 points in 53 games (0.42) after joining the Penguins and then six points in 14.5 games (again, about 0.42) in the playoffs before breaking his ankle. He was able to co-exist with Schultz for much of that, with the two of them often partnering up on the PP. Daley may take a small hit here, but really not much of one. Just a general, overall ice time and PP time reduction by just a small amount. It's Pouliot who hurts from this. He's still able to be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers and this signing pretty much seals that outcome. A strong training camp would change things, but anything short of that will see him start the year in the AHL where it is hoped that he will recapture his magic and leave last season as a distant memory. Pouliot owners will need to wait one more year, or perhaps midseason, before getting a return on their investment.
Letang gets a little help, but very minor, just from spreading out the offensive threat a little more. Almost negligible, but still something positive.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
1. Schultz (see his game logs, %PP, TOI, and full stats here)
2. Letang (see his game logs, %PP, TOI, and full stats here)
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
1. Pouliot (his fantasy scouting report is right here)
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