In the off-season, the Philadelphia Flyers signed veteran defenseman, Nick Schultz to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Schultz wasn’t expected to be seeing too much ice time since he was signed to be the Flyers extra defenseman. He didn’t have to wait long to get his shot, however, because fellow defenseman, Braydon Coburn broke his foot during the first game of the season for the Flyers. While Coby was out, Andrew MacDonald also broke his foot while blocking a shot, and the minutes starting increasing for Schultz. Craig Berube even used him on the second power play unit for a few shifts. He also took Coby’s spot on the penalty kill.
Schultz wound up playing so well that he forced Berube to leave him in the lineup once the defense was healthy again. He has been the Flyers’ most consistent defenseman, and has only missed two games this season. The first game of the season he was a healthy scratch, and then he sat out a game due to injury. After Nicklas Grossmann and Coby went out with injuries, Berube paired Schultz with Mark Streit on the top defense pairing.
In 49 games played this season, Schultz has one goal, 10 assists, and 11 points. He is also a plus six, which is the best among Flyers defensemen. He also has one game winning goal, even though he is known more for his defensive skills. He averages about 19:01 in ice time per game, and is used at even strength and on the penalty kill. Schultz doesn’t have a short-handed point, but he does play about 2:41 short-handed minutes per game.
One reason that he plays on the penalty kill is that he’s not afraid to block shots (95). The defenseman will get his stick into the passing or shooting lanes, and either break up a play or deflect a shot out of play. He is usually in good position to make or break up a play. When watching games, his name is rarely heard for making a bad play or decision with the puck. He will turn the puck over some, but he can usually get back into a good defensive position.
Schultz may be known more for his defensive skills, but lately he has been joining the play in the offensive zone. He’ll pinch in from the point to try to keep a play alive. He’s been deep in the offensive zone, and come back to join the rush. In a game against the Winnipeg Jets, he came in front the point to put a loose rebound past Michael Hutchinson. He’ll take some chances offensively, but he will make sure that someone has rotated back to cover his spot before he takes those chances.
Schultz is an unrestricted free agent after the season, and it should be interesting to see if the Flyers let him go or sign him to another contract.