Usually when a NHL team wants to trade a player, they will showcase him. Move him up in the lineup, give him more starts if he’s a goalie, stuff like that. Well, Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal has a strange idea when it comes to showcasing defenseman Nick Schultz.
Willis believes that if the Oilers want to trade Schultz, they should keep him lower in the lineup, specifically on the third defensive pairing. Willis has analyzed all but two of the Oilers’ 60 games and has come to a conclusion.
That conclusion is that when Schultz moves up into the Oilers’ top four, his play falters. When he has played on the third pairing, he seems to be a good defenseman. So what we have hear appears to be the opposite of showcasing.
There is no definite word that the Oilers even want to trade Schultz, but if they do, I guess this would be a good plan.
Willis analyzed the play of Schultz with how the Oilers scoring chance-differential changed when Schultz was paired with one of two groups of four defensemen. Sound confusing, I’ll explain.
Apparently, when Schultz played with either Anton Belov, Taylor Fedun, Brad Hunt or Corey Potter, the chance-differential was 87-79 for the other team. Willis calls that differential “not a great total, but not bad either.”
He asks the question on why Nick Schultz plays worse when he plays with a better defenseman. He answers by saying that when he is playing with better players, he is also playing against better competition.
So, it’s clear that if the Oilers want to trade Nick Schultz, they better not play him a lot.