CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Jeff Schultz
Jeff SchultzPosition: Defense
HtWt: 6-6, 230
Penalty Minutes: 12
Average Ice Time: 15:17
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 11 million contract 2.75 million cap hit in 2012-13
Strengths: For a guy taken with the 27th overall pick of the 2004 NHL draft, Schultz was reduced to a part-time player in 2011-12, playing just 54 games, his lowest total since his rookie year. Schultz proved two years ago that he could be an effective defense partner for Mike Green, finishing with an NHL-best plus- 50 rating, but saw those totals and his ice time fall under Dale Hunter. Schultz is still big enough and strong enough to be a steady stay-at-home defenseman and will benefit from a coaching change.
Weaknesses: Schultz has never been the quickest or most physical defenseman and assistant coach Jim Johnson worked hard with him to improve both areas of his game. If Schultz can play a little meaner in front of his own net he still has a chance to be a shut-down defender. But at 26 he needs to do it on a regular basis if he wants to stay in the league after his contract expires.
Memorable Moment on the ice: It wasnt exactly a shining moment, but Schultz scored his only goal of the season on Feb. 13 in a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks that was best remembered for goaltender Braden Holtbys surprise start over Michal Neuvirth. Roman Hamrlik and Dmitry Orlov also scored for the Capitals, the only time three Caps defensemen lit the lamp in the same game.
Memorable Moment off the ice: On Jan. 11, with Mike Green sidelined by an abdominal injury, the Capitals recalled defenseman Tomas Kundratek from the Hershey Bears and made Schultz a healthy scratch for the 12th time in 14 games. Schultz thought it was a matter of time before the club moved him.I have a lot of great friends here, he said. I dont want to be put in a situation where (a trade) comes up, but I want to play. Thats kind of the bottom line. Hopefully, I get in the lineup here or something works itself out. Nothing ever really worked itself out and Schultz found himself in and out of the lineup all season.
2012-13 Expectations: At 26, Schultz needs to re-establish himself as a reliable shut-down defenseman capable of logging big minutes. Whether that comes as a member of the Capitals or he needs a change of scenery remains to be seen, but at 2.75 million it will be difficult for the Caps to move Schultz this summer.