Piling up 15 points in his first 10 pro hockey games isn’t Justin Schultz’s most remarkable performance in pro hockey.
No, that was choosing the Edmonton Oilers.
Vancouver is still hurting from that one.
You could hear the pain here Friday when jilted Canucks fans booed Schultz lustily, and did it often in his first game in his home province after spurning the Canucks for the young Oilers. It won’t be the last time.
It’s frustrating to finish runner-up to an Alberta rival, especially now, when you see the 22-yearold blueliner control the defensive end like he had a well-behaved dog on a lead.
Schultz didn’t get a point. He was still the star-laden Oklahoma City’s most-impressive player.
He was smooth, clever and confident, and all behind his own blue-line.
This is supposed to be the offensive wizard whose defensive game was to look like a toddler teething as he made the transition from the University of Wisconsin to the pros.
Sure doesn’t look that way.
“What’s under-appreciated right now is his defensive game,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s out there for every penalty kill and every tight situation. It’s awesome to have a guy like that back there, who you can trust offensively and defensively.”
Vancouver may have come close in their pursuit of Schultz, the B.C. kid from Kelowna who grew up a Canucks fan, just like his dad. But it would have been an upset.
The Oilers were always his first choice and you don’t have to look much further than the Oklahoma City team which visited Abbotsford this weekend to understand why.
On it is the Oilers future, including Taylor Hall, Jordan Eber-le and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They all have the potential to be stars. That worked like gravity on Schultz.
“It was a little tough but I always figured in the back of my mind Edmonton was the right place for me to be in,” Schultz said.
“It made that decision a little easier.
“I saw a great opportunity there and I wasn’t worried about what anyone was going to think. I think I made the best decision for my career. The young talent they have here is going to be an exciting couple of years coming up if the NHL starts.
“The end goal is a Stanley Cup, hopefully a couple of them. I think we have the talent here to do it. I’m excited to start playing with them up in the NHL.”
Still, it took days for Schultz to make up his mind officially. He was ripped online for being indecisive. The Rangers, Leafs, Canucks and Ottawa Senators were viewed as teams in the running.
It must have been overwhelming. Here was a young player who had never played a pro game and his situation was being covered as ferociously as the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise saga.
“I definitely didn’t expect the attention it got,” Schultz said. “But, you know, I learned a lot from it and I’m glad it’s over.
“I was a little shocked (at the attention). There’s a lot of media in today’s world.”
Vancouver was in the mix because of Schultz’s roots. His family still lives in Kelowna where he stays every summer. He played for two years in the BCHL.
“That was the start of everything for me,” Schultz said. “I wasn’t a highly touted guy. I got recruited to college and from there, I got here.
“I had a lot of great times there and it really developed me as a player. I wasn’t the biggest guy and I didn’t have many teams coming after me.”
And as Schultz put it: “We were always Canucks fans.”
“(My dad) basically left most of it up to me and whatever I thought was right,” Schultz said. “He was supportive of me and whatever I chose.
“(Vancouver) was right up there. I always liked them when I was growing up.”
He just didn’t like them enough. Booooo.