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UFA spotlight — Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz

Wisconsin Badgers Justin Schultz (6) shoots the puck during an NCAA men’s hockey game against Northern Michigan Wildcats on October 7, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wildcats won 3-2 (OT). (Photo by David Stluka)

David Stluka

All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Justin Schultz (D)

Age: 21

2011-12 cap hit: N/A

The skinny:

After Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, he’s the most sought after UFA on the market. Which is unusual, because he’s never played a game in the NHL.

Schultz was originally drafted in 2007 by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round; however, he never signed with the club and has since blossomed with the Wisconsin Badgers into a potential “top-end defenseman,” according to former Flames GM Craig Button.

The word that’s often used when describing Schultz is “poise.” He’s the type of defenseman that can control the pace of the game and is cool under pressure. His skating is excellent; he has a great shot; and he’s no liability in his own end.

Schultz reportedly wants to sign with a team that can guarantee him a roster spot and playing time. So, where could he end up?

Vancouver is a potential landing spot, as Schultz is a Kelowna, BC, native.

Edmonton is close to home as well, and signing with the Oilers would give him the opportunity to develop with the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov.

Senators GM Bryan Murray said he thinks “it’s down to 3-5 teams, and I believe we’re one of those teams.”

Red Wings GM Ken Holland hopes to sell Schultz on the “tremendous opportunity” in Detroit.

The Maple Leafs, Flyers and Rangers are also believed to be in the mix.

Schultz can’t officially sign until July 1, but he can listen to pitches this week.

More UFA spotlights

Ryan Suter

Zach Parise

Jason Garrison

Jiri Hudler