After seeing his role and ice time diminished for a second straight season under another new coaching staff, defenseman Jeff Schultz has asked the Capitals to trade him so he can earn a consistent spot in the NHL elsewhere.
Discouraged by being a frequent healthy scratch and frustrated by the absence of instruction from Coach Adam Oates and the assistant coaches as to how he could earn more playing time, Schultz believes it’s time for a fresh start.
“My agent and I thought there has got to be somewhere else where a team needs a player like myself and I can be utilized a lot more than I was here,” Schultz said Thursday afternoon. “It was like I was a young first year player again with them. They didn’t have that trust in me that they could put me out there in tough situations or even in the third period.”
Schultz’s agent, Jarrett Bousquet, said that the trade request initially occurred in mid-March when it became clear that the 27-year-old had been passed on the depth chart. The Washington Examiner first reported that Schultz had asked to be traded.
The defenseman played in only 26 games this year and none past March 31 as the Capitals relied on left-handed defensemen Karl Alzner, Jack Hillen and John Erskine down the stretch. But throughout the season, players with less experience including Tomas Kundratek, Dmitry Orlov and Steve Oleksy all saw game time while Schultz sat from the press box.
“It was hard too to see, when you’re not playing, for [the Capitals to] call guys up and have them play in front of you. You’ve been in the league for a certain amount of years and this is their first year, it’s just kind of frustrating,” Schultz said. “I guess they want to get them some experience, but I felt like I could do more than them.”
Schultz, who has one year remaining on a four-year, $11 million contract, carries a $2.75 million salary cap hit next season. Whether that’s a tradable contract for a defenseman who has played only 80 games combined in the past two regular seasons as the salary cap drops to $64.3 million remains to be seen. A buyout is also an option. If the Capitals were to use one of the two compliance buyouts allowed under the new CBA on Schultz, it would not count against the salary cap.
Bousquet said teams have expressed interest in Schultz, however, and is confident that there is a market for his client.