On Tuesday afternoon, Washington Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz spoke to D.C. media for the first time since signing a two-year contract that carries a cap hit of $4 million during free agency on Friday. The team will pay him $3 million in 2020-21 and $5 million the next season. He expressed his excitement and readiness to get back into action in Washington.
Schultz said he is “fine” health-wise. The 30-year-old suffered multiple injuries during the 2019-20 season, but explained he does “feel good” now. He is currently in Kelowna, British Columbia, and has been doing some off-ice training and skating with Tampa Bay Lightning’s Luke Schenn, Edmonton Oilers’ Mike Smith, Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen, and several others. Schultz noted he is “excited to get to Washington.”
“Obviously, the power play is one of my strengths, so hopefully I get an opportunity on there, whether it’s the first or second unit,” the new defenseman said. He is looking forward to contributing offense as a blueliner. Additionally, Schultz mentioned it’s great to be on the other side of captain Alex Ovechkin’s one-timers. “It will definitely be nice to feed him the one-timers as opposed to standing there and taking them.”
“Washington is very tough, playing the hard game…couldn’t be more excited to be a Capital,” he said. Schultz complimented the Capitals as a team that was always physical and hard to play against. “It’s exciting to be on their side now,” he said. He already knows fellow defenseman Brenden Dillon from Vancouver and former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Carl Hagelin has already reached out to Schultz, reassuring how great the guys are and how he “will fit right in”.
He is excited to be playing in head coach Peter Laviolette’s system. Schultz noted Laviolette’s teams are “very tough” to play against, referencing the 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Penguins and Nashville Predators, whom Laviolette coached. Schultz also said that the coach has had “great” defensemen under the Predators and is “looking forward” to playing under him.
By Della Young