Garrett played against the Oilers’ dynasty teams and says the key players to watch will Dubnyk and Schultz because they fill the Oilers’ greatest organizational voids.
“It’s a lot easier to play goal when you’re not expected to win,” said Garrett. “And so Devan Dubnyk now, okay, you might be expected to win. And the pressure’s on. So the goaltending is a big question mark in my mind. I don’t know whether he can or not. He shows signs every now and then that he could [be a No. 1 goalie], but you have to be consistent, and especially if it’s a shortened season.
“Then there’s Schultz. He’s leading the American League in scoring. So you say, ‘Is that just a product of playing with those NHL guys, Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, or is he that good?’ – because those are the two areas where they really need help. They need consistency in goal and they need a guy that can, not only make that first pass, but skate the puck out of his own zone. They haven’t had that.”
Schultz, who says Coffey’s phone call “was a big influence on me in making my decision,” is looking forward to the day when the lockout ends. Until then, he is doing what he can to make the transition from the U.S. college game to minor pro.
“I’m an offensive defenceman, so I wanted to come in and put up numbers,” said Schultz. “I think it’s been going better than I ever expected it would.
“But the dream is to play in the NHL. I feel whenever that time comes, I’ll be ready. Right now, we’re having a good time down here. We’re still improving so we’re going to be ready, whenever that time comes, to go up to Edmonton and play there.”
“We have all the right pieces,” concluded Eberle. “It’s just a matter of putting them together.”