Washington Capitals Player Preview: Breaking down Justin Schultz in 2021-22

Washington Capitals hockey is coming back! Prospects are on the ice for Rookie Camp. The rest of the team reports for physicals on Wednesday before training camp starts Thursday. The puck drops for the first preseason game one week from now. To prepare for the big season ahead, we will break down each player. We start off with defenseman Justin Schultz who enters his second season with the Caps.

The Caps defense enters this upcoming season with plenty of questions but the Caps know what they’ve got on the right side of their blueline and that includes Schultz. The Caps signed him in the 2020 offseason for eight million over two seasons so an average annual value (AAV) of four million per year.

Last season, Schultz was on the second pair partnered up with Dmitry Orlov. The duo had decent possession metrics, finishing last season with a Corsi For percentage of 49.14 percent. Anything above 45 percent is considered good. Anything below that is a tad bit alarming. Their High Danger Chances For together finished up at 50.32 percent.

Schultz’s individual Corsi For percentage was equivalent to the number it was when he was paired with Orlov (49.14 percent). Schultz had three goals and 24 assists for 27 points in 46 games with the Capitals last season. His plus/minus was a plus 12 as he averaged 19:01 minutes of ice time. He did miss some time due to injury.

In the playoffs he was held off the scoresheet and finished with a minus two while averaging 22:24 minutes of ice time in those five games against the Boston Bruins. Schultz’s Corsi For percentage dropped 44.09 percent individually while it improved with Orlov to 51.61 percent. That doesn’t change the fact the team got eliminated and they entered that offseason with a ton of questions, some of it involving Schultz.

Leading up to the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, several pundits including us predicted that the Kraken would take Justin Schultz. While Schultz was exposed the defenseman and his four million cap hit wasn’t taken. I’m sure the Kraken wish they could do it over after having Vitek Vanecek for only a week only to realize they didn’t need him.

Schultz embarks on the final year of his two year contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The defense should be a little bit different with veterans and youth mixed in and Schultz could likely wind up with a new partner on the second pair. Whether it’s Michal Kempny or Martin Fehervary remains to be seen.