Schultz captures AHL’s Eddie Shore Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Justin Schultz of the Oklahoma City Barons has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2012-13 season. The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Schultz is the first rookie in the 55-year history of the Eddie Shore Award to win the honor.

In just 34 games for the Barons, Schultz totaled 18 goals and 30 assists for 48 points and amassed a plus-8 rating, seven power-play goals, two shorthanded goals and three game-winners. By the time he played his last game for the Barons on Jan. 5, Schultz was on pace to shatter the single-season AHL records for goals (20), assists (47) and points (66) by a rookie defenseman. More than three months after his recall to the National Hockey League, Schultz still leads all AHL defensemen in goals, points, power-play goals (tied), shorthanded goals (tied), power-play points (tied) and shooting percentage.

Schultz began his professional career by registering a point in each of his first nine games with Oklahoma City, followed by a 10-game scoring streak from Nov. 10 to Dec. 8. He was selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Oct. 22 following his second week of pro hockey, and was later named the league’s Player of the Month for October and Rookie of the Month for November. He was also selected to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team last week and earned a spot on the First All-Star Team as well.

Schultz, 22, signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers on July 1, 2012, after three seasons at the University of Wisconsin, where he was an All-American and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. A native of West Kelowna, B.C., Schultz has gone on to tally 21 points in 42 National Hockey League games with Edmonton this season.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1958-59, honors the late Eddie Shore, a member of both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame who is widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of five Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and three as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous winners of the Eddie Shore Award include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Al Arbour (1965), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Sheldon Brookbank (2007), Johnny Boychuk (2009), Marc-Andre Gragnani (2011) and Mark Barberio (2012).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2012-13 regular season ends on Sunday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.