Jeff Schultz didn't play a single game during the 2013-14 regular season. Fast forward a few months, and the 28-year-old (and yes, he's only 28) now has a two-year contract. With the Los Angeles Kings! How did that happen?!
Turns out, all Schultz needed was seven games. As you can see above, they were seven fairly quiet games, but his role as an injury replacement for Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr proved that he was at least capable of covering the back end in a pinch. As reported by John Hoven (now confirmed), Schultz has been re-signed for two years at $850K per season. From the press release:
The 28-year-old Schultz made his Kings debut in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, appearing in seven playoffs games (0-0=0, 0 PIM) after he was recalled from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League on April 30.
Schultz played in 67 regular season games with the Monarchs this past season, recording 13 points (2-11=13), 32 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating. He also appeared in two playoff games with Manchester, recording zero points, two penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.
Schultz is obviously not going to be a game-changer at this point, and his signing likely doesn't affect the existing Kings' hierarchy of defensemen. Brayden McNabb would be exposed to waivers if he was sent down to Manchester. Is LA willing to keep eight defensemen on the roster? They've done it before. Otherwise, I'd expect Schultz to be an insurance policy in Manchester... again. Even so, if the 2014 playoffs were any indication, an insurance policy can prove to be crucial.
That left two more unrestricted free agents (excluding Willie Mitchell, who has been confirmed as leaving LA), and Jon Rosen has reported that Colin Fraser and Andrew Campbell will also hit free agency tomorrow. Fraser played 33 games this season and got to lift the Stanley Cup for the third time, but he didn't appear in the lineup after February 3. As for Campbell? He was the late-season injury replacement, and was rewarded for over 400 games in Manchester by getting his NHL debut. Which is cool. Depending on his landing spot, he might even get a full slate of regular season games next year.
Free agency begins tomorrow. We'll have a thread, though with LA's roster so locked-in, it'll be more about making fun of terrible contracts than anything else!