April 19, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Former Wisconsin All-American and current Edmonton Oiler Justin Schultz was named American Hockey League defenseman of the year on Wednesday, winning the Eddie Shore Award and becoming the first rookie in the award's 55-year history.
Since signing with Edmonton last summer as a free agent, the Kelowna, British Columbia, native began the season with the Oklahoma City Barons. While with Edmonton's AHL affiliate, Schultz played in 34 games in which he recorded 18 goals, 30 assists and 48 points. Schultz tied a franchise record with a 10-game point scoring streak, while also recording a separate nine game point streak.
The 6-2, 185-pound defender left the AHL and joined the Oilers on Jan. 5, carrying his impressive rookie season over to the NHL. Schultz currently leads all NHL rookie defensemen and Edmonton defensemen with six goals, 15 assists and 21 points in 42 games played.
Despite not having played in Oklahoma City since Jan. 5, Schultz still tops all AHL defenseman with his 48 points, 18 goals and 19.6 shooting percentage.
"The award is pretty cool to get," Schultz said. "It's obviously a great league. It was kind of a blessing in disguise for me to play (in the AHL). I got to go there and make it easier on myself. We had a great team down there and I've got to give a lot of credit to them for helping me make the jump to pro hockey."
A two-time All-American while at Wisconsin, Schultz totaled 40 goals, 73 assists and 113 points, including 21 power-play goals and five game-winning scores over the stretch of his 121-game career as a Badger. Schultz recorded 28 multi-point games in seasons with Wisconsin.
Schultz ranks third in UW history and ninth in WCHA history among defensemen with 40 goals, while also tied for eighth in UW history among defenseman with 113 points. He became the first Badger to post consecutive 40-point seasons since former NHL forward Robbie Earl and current San Jose Sharks' forward Joe Pavelski back in 2004-06.
Helping Wisconsin reach the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four title game in Detroit, Schultz also became the first UW defender since Brian Rafalski in the 1994-95 season to reach 100 career points.
Schultz adds his recent honor to an already impressive and long line of Badger defenseman in the NHL from the Mike Eaves' coaching era at Wisconsin. The list includes Nashville's Ryan Suter, New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh, Toronto's Jake Gardiner, Carolina's Jamie McBain, Detroit's Brendan Smith, Minnesota's Tom Gilbert and Montreal's Davis Drewiske.