I was bored when I got home last night so I decided to torture myself by looking at Nick Schultz’s career numbers. There were a lot of comments stating he had been good this year or that the deal isn’t really that bad. Sorry, but he hasn’t been that good this year. He’s just performed better than expected which isn’t saying a whole lot.
I think it might be safe to say that Schultz’s “improved” play may be due to his defense partners this year. So far he has spent most of his time playing alongside Braydon Coburn and Mark Streit. Some may make the argument that “Well, maybe Schultz is actually making them better. Maybe he brings a calming presence that helps other defenders.” The only problem with that logic is we have roughly 8 seasons worth of evidence that shows he consistently has a negative effect on his teammates.
Data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com
We can also see the same problems on a team level as well.
Data from puckalytics.com
He’s not generating shots, but he’s not suppressing shots either. Part of that problem has to due with the fact that he is not very good at defending the blue line. Only Luke Schenn has managed to break up less entries than Schultz. When you’re constantly letting opponents skate freely into your defensive zone you’re going to see a lot of shots against. Why exactly is it so surprising that he leads the team in blocked shots? He doesn’t do himself any favors by struggling to exit the zone either. His inability to exit the zone consistently and without possession has a negative impact on the teams ability to transition into offense.
Look, I watch these games a lot. I watch every game three times so I can track all of the data listed above. Nick Schultz just doesn’t stand out to me as a guy you have to re-sign; he’s nothing special at all. Even if the Flyers plans are to move Coburn at the deadline, it still doesn’t make sense to me. Schultz won’t be able to replace Coburn’s effectiveness, on any level. Looking ahead to next year, are you really going to ask one of Morin or Gostisbehere carry a pairing with one of Schultz, Grossmann, or Schenn? Players like Nick Schultz are a dime a dozen. Year after year, there are replacement level defensemen available during free agency that wouldn’t cost anywhere near what they just paid Schultz. Why are you even prioritizing 3rd pairing defensemen at all right now? For a team that is constantly spending to the cap it just blows my mind the amount of money they continue to throw at these lower level defensemen Once again, the Flyers are bidding against themselves and inevitably forcing their own hand.