Heading into the offseason, it is understandable if you assumed Nick Jensen would be the Capitals' second-pair right defenseman. With a new coach in tow, however, who has a new style he likes to play, it looks like Justin Schultz may be the better fit.
"As far as [head coach Peter Laviolette] and [general manager Brian MacLellan], they just explained to me where I would fit in," Schultz said of his conversations during free agency, "Joining the offense and trying to play that game with the D-men joining. It was very exciting to hear that because that's one of my strengths I feel."
Though injuries have hampered him the past few seasons, when healthy Schultz can be a dangerous player offensively with a career-high of 51 points.
Having defensemen join in the attack is standard for Laviolette coached teams which seemingly makes Schultz an ideal fit.
"Obviously in Nashville they still have a lot of great D-men," Schultz said of Laviolette's former team. "They were always joining the attack and involved in the rushes and in the offense and they played hard, defended hard."
From the moment the team signed Schultz, it was clear he was going to be more than just a bottom-pair defenseman. With a cap hit of $4 million, Schultz now has the third-highest cap hit among the team's defensemen, higher even than Brenden Dillon who is expected to take a top-pair role.
That price tag may seem steep to some considering his injury troubles the past few years, but this move was all about the fit which is why Schultz now looks poised to take on a top-four role.
On Friday after the first day of free agency, general manager Brian MacLellan said he could see Schultz playing with either Dillon or Dmitry Orlov, both of whom play top-four roles on the left.
Clearly, the Caps want more offense from their blue line and clearly they want to see it in their top four.
They also may get an added boost to the power play as that is an area of the game in which Schultz hopes to contribute. he's probably not going to take John Carlson's spot on the top unit any time soon, but it would not be a stretch to think he could play on the second.
"Hopefully I get an opportunity on there whether it's first or second unit," Schultz said. "It'll definitely be nice getting to feed [Alex Ovechkn] the one-timers as opposed to standing there and taking them. Really looking forward to it."