The Detroit Red Wings’ pursuit of free agent defenseman Justin Schultz appears to be over almost before it began. Schultz, who opted not to sign with the Anaheim Ducks so he could be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has crossed the Wings off his list — or vice versa — according to the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan.
Red Wings officially out of of the D Justin Schultz sweepstakes
— Ted Kulfan (@tkulfan) June 28, 2012
MLive’s Ansar Khan reported the same:
Red Wings informed today that they are not on Justin Schultz’s list of desired destinations, Ken Holland tells M-Live.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) June 28, 2012
The news came just hours after CBC Sports reported that the Red Wings were “making (a) big push” for the former University of Wisconsin star.
Holland, who recently bid adieu to defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade to San Jose), is willing to guarantee a roster spot to the 21-year-old blue-liner who has yet to take a shift in a National Hockey League game, a team source told the Windsor Star.
“We’ve contacted his agents [Pat Morris and Wade Arnott] to express an interest in signing him,” Holland told reporters in Detroit. “There’s a tremendous opportunity [with Lidstrom and Stuart gone]. We’re trying to rebuild on the fly. We think he would be a good fit.”
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Schultz spent most of Wednesday meeting with his “camp” and expected to release a short list of teams that he was interested in playing for. It’s expected that that Edmonton and Vancouver may be at the top of the list, as the British Columbia-born Schultz is believed to have heavy interest in returning to Canada to play his pro hockey.
If the Red Wings are indeed out of the mix for Schultz, it eliminates another key name off the list of blue-line candidates — earlier Wednesday, pending free agent Dennis Wideman was traded from Washington to Calgary, where he promptly signed a five-year deal.
Losing Schultz would not change the fact that Ryan Suter is at the forefront of the Wings’ minds, but it may ramp up their interest in guys like Matt Carle and Jason Garrison.
The next few days and weeks figure to be very interesting in Hockeytown, and Schultz’s apparent decision to pass on the Red Wings’ offer will only make Holland’s job that much harder.