Chalk up one more assist to The Great One.
Wayne Gretzky, the best hockey player in the history of the game and winner of four Stanley Cup championships while playing with the Edmonton Oilers, just assisted on one more power play for his former team, only this one was not on the ice.
Gretzky and former teammate Paul Coffey helped the Oilers land one of the top free agent defenseman this offseason in 21-year-old Justin Schultz. Schultz was drafted out of the University of Wisconsin by the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, but never signed with the team. A finalist for the Hobey Baker Award at Wisconsin in two consecutive seasons, Schultz was a coveted free agent who had reportedly narrowed his list down to five teams before ultimately choosing to play in Edmonton.
While the Oilers have struggled to lure marquee free agents to Edmonton over the past few seasons, they have drafted some very talented players with the utmost potential, including Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and this year’s top overall pick in Nail Yakupov. But according to general manager Steve Tambellini, it was not the current youngsters in Edmonton who swayed this decision.
“Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey helped us with the explanation of really what this market is all about,” said Tambellini. ”I think that spoke volumes to Justin.”
Evidently, it worked.