As the season stays halted and the Pittsburgh Penguins fan base is torn apart, let’s continue by the numbers and look at this controversial defenseman entering his last year under contract.
When you look at Justin Schultz and his timeline at the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s hard not to feel bad for the guy. From the time he came, including injured seasons, he was one of the most productive offensive defenders the Pens had. This season, however, the well has gone dry.
This may not be the worst year of his career, but for his time in Pittsburgh, it is. This is the first time he has had a negative +/- since 2015 in his last season with Edmonton. The comparisons there line up because this very well could be his final season in a Penguins uniform as well.
Surely Justin Schultz could have used these past few months to perfect his game and reset. Now, it looks as if he just may need to restart and look for a new team going into next season. This is where the central rift between Penguins fans comes in as some miss and honor his Stanley Cup years while others see him as expendable and a waste of cash.
Pittsburgh Penguins by the numbers: Justin Schultz
As previously mentioned, but worth looking deeper into, Schultz has lost his best asset. There were times where he has been feared by the opposition as an offensive defenseman and attacker. Now, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze anymore as his best attributes have now gone missing.
It seems almost like his luck has run out. Everyone overtime loses some of there skill-sets as they dwindle off with age or injury, but as Schultz has hit the pause button at seemingly the worst time, others around him have stepped up. The rookie John Marino and Schultz’s closest comparisons (Dumoulin and MP) have overtaken him, leaving him down on the 3rd line of the defense.
Yes, looking at Justin Schultz in this by the numbers series is a bit saddening on the heart. You have to remember and honor the good times, but they have almost fallen on depth ears. This season was a year where he could show the Penguins brass who he was and that he was ready for a new contract. Instead, he has almost given them an easy option of just getting rid of him.