The Pittsburgh Penguins backline may look different next season, and that’s ok. Life without Justin Schultz can continue and here’s how.
Firstly, the point of this article is not to put down or diminish Justin Schultz and his time as a Pittsburgh Penguin. On the contrariety, he had quite the time here in Pittsburgh, especially when he burst on to the scenes in his first full season with 51 points (12 goals and 39 assists).
Since then, however, his time in the black and gold has somewhat slowed down almost to a halt at times. Over his next two seasons he barely even came close to matching his first full seasons numbers but at the same time had 2 really bad stints on the injured list.
As this very well maybe the last season for Schultz in Pittsburgh, and really we may not see him again due to the COVID layoff, fear not. It’s almost a catch-22 scenario because yes, the Penguins need to get better defensively, but getting rid of Schultz can weirdly fix that. Whether through new additions or internal movement, life after Schultz can thrive.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Life without Justin Schultz next season
Besides, ahead, or behind Schultz, the Pens roster isn’t weak, it just needs to be improved. The likes of Letang, Pettersson, Dumoulin, and the rookie of the year contender John Marino will certainly need to step up but seemingly have already put the Penguins in good hands. Take a look at the potential line changes without Schultz in the picture anymore.
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Defensive Line 1
Defensive Line 2
Defensive Line 3
Pittsburgh has options when it comes to the Baby Penguins, it’ll just take time to see if they can pan out the way Marino has in only his first year. In addition, with Schultz gone and out of the picture it will give the Penguins brass money to spend on a new defensive addition. Maybe one with some experience and a leadership mantra to help steer the ship home.
Despite having a rough few seasons, Justin Schultz won’t lack suitors on the upcoming free-agent market. He is a righty with past success and some Stanley Cup experience. Leaving is never easy but maybe this move could benefit him as well.
A fresh start for him to rejuvenate his career elsewhere and a fresh start for the Penguins to turn the tide and fix the ever-present issue that is finishing games. So yes, Pittsburgh Penguins fans, there is nothing to fear about Schultz leaving as life without him only gets better in the end.