Every single year at this time of the season, NHL teams are circling around the NCAA for a forgotten gem, a player who wasn’t drafted but who developed beyond original expectations. And every year, some of those late bloomers sign entry level deals with NHL clubs after having been courted by several teams. The likes of Adam Oates, Ed Belfour, Joe Mullen and Dan Boyle have been overlooked in the past but with 31 (soon to be 32) NHL teams and scouting crews, fewer and fewer of those gems will be left to find in the future.
This year’s big catch appears to be St. Cloud State Huskies defenseman Jimmy Schuldt. In his November 15th, 2017 edition of his 31 Thoughts, Elliott Friedman linked the Canadiens as one of the most interested teams in acquiring his services and there is little doubt that Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins and the rest of the Canadiens’ brass are chomping at the bit to be able to talk to the soon to be free agent, something they can’t do until St. Cloud is eliminated from the playoffs.
Who is Schuldt?
Schuldt is a 6-foot one-inch, 205 pounds left-handed defenseman who is team captain for Huskies. He is a team leader for the #1 nationally ranked Huskies (27-4-3, 19-2-3 NCHC) who helped guide St. Cloud State to the 2018-18 NCHC regular season championship. Schuldt has posted nine goals and 22 assists in 34 games this season, including four power play goals, one SHG and two game winners. He had 71 shots on goal and finished the season with a plus -20 on the plus/minus. He leads his team with 65 blocked shots and he had eight multi-point games in 2018-19. The 24 year old has played in 151 consecutive games during his college career (never has missed a game) and he ranks first on SCSU’s all-time records for a defenseman with 114 career points. He also ranks first in the team records for most career goals by a defenseman with 37.
Competition will be fierce amongst NHL teams trying to convinced that young man to sign with them but as one of the first teams showing interest in him, the Canadiens have as good of a shot as anyone. For one, he participated in the team’s development camp back in the summer of 2017. Schuldt has played his last three years with Canadiens’ first round pick Ryan Poehling and he has also played one year with former NCAA free agent Charlie Lindgren, back in the 2015-2016 season.
When looking at the Canadiens’ roster, there is a gaping hole on the left side of the defense and that is something that Schuldt and his agent might be looking at when making their final decision. As a Minnesota native, he might consider the Wild as well but Mike Reilly will be first to point out how hard it is to pierce that formation on defense, even as a local product.
The Huskies are starting their playoffs on Friday, March 15th when they will be facing the Miami University Redhawks in a best of three series, on the road to the Frozen Four, which will be held in Buffalo from April 11th to the 13th.
EDIT (Mar.15/19): It looks as though that Schuldt has a verbal agreement with the Habs and could sign when St. Cloud is eliminated from the playoffs… unless something changes.