Habs’ Target: Jimmy Schuldt

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.

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Home Away From Home

For some teams, it’s hard to draw fans to the rink on a regular basis. For many of them, the visitors are important financially when they come to their building. Keeping a balance to make it look like it’s a home game is sometimes… challenging at best. It’s the case when the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are visitors and it is particularly obvious when those teams visit Western Canada for their annual trip. For one, Jesperi Kotkaniemi is experiencing the power of the Habs’ fan base outside of Montreal for the very first time and judging from his permanent smile, he doesn’t seem to mind at all.

And it is not only in Western Canada. Ottawa and Toronto fans don’t like when their home rinks feel like Habsland. It even spreads to the States where you don’t need to look very far back to notice this amazing phenomenon. It’s not too long ago that in Tampa Bay, the Lightning were restricting the purchase of tickets to the Tampa area via postal codes (or zip codes in the US) to avoid Habs’ fans buying tickets to games between the two teams.

Or do you remember this campaign from the New York Islanders posted on their official website, fed up with the fact that Habs’ fans would louder than their own?

Yes, sometimes teams have to decide between making fists-full of money and the experience for their own fans, for their own players to feel… at home when the Canadiens are visitors. Really, think about it. Is there something more annoying, when you pay big bucks to go to a game, than visitors’ fans cheering their team on right beside you? Well imagine when you have thousands of them in your own rink!

For the very first time, I will get to experience this when I take on the game between the Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena today. I am told that 60-70% of the crowd is wearing red. With BC Boys Carey Price, Shea Weber, Karl Alzner, Jordie Benn, Noah Juulsen, and with players with BC ties like Brendan Gallagher and Mike Reilly having tickets for friends and family, that alone will be red. I know that I will, with my Canadiens vintage red jersey… and I also know that given the chance, I will be chanting the Olé, Olé-Olé-Olé and the Go Habs Go! And guess what? I will make no apology about it.