TORONTO – Capitals general manager George McPhee confirmed Saturday that defenseman Jeff Schultz requested a trade in mid-March. The trade request was first reported Thursday by the Washington Examiner.
“He did ask for a trade,” McPhee told CSNwashington.com from the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto. “As we’ve told every player, if you ever want to be traded or you’re not happy then let us know and we’ll trade you. So we started working on it and we’ll see what develops.”
The Capitals selected Schultz in the first-round (27th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft and the Calgary native has spent his entire career with the Washington organization.
Schultz has played 399 career games with the Capitals- 12th most in franchise history among defensemen- and his plus-78 rating is fifth best among all Capitals all-time. McPhee said that regardless of the player’s history with the club, if the individual wants a change of scenery the team will move on.
“If someone wants to be traded, we’ll trade him,” McPhee said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. If you don’t want to play for us, we’ll move you. Washington is a great place to play- it’s a great team, a great city, we’ve got great fans and if you don’t want to be part of it, we’ll move you.”
Despite his veteran status, Schultz has been passed in recent years on Washington’s depth chart and the 27-year-old appeared in just 26 of 48 games last season.
Schultz was a healthy scratch for all but two games during Washington’s 15-2-2 run to end the regular-season and did not play at all in Washington’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.
“The only thing we tell our players is that we don’t want to hear from your agents, we want to hear from you,” McPhee said. “Jeff was a pro. He came in and just said that he wanted an opportunity somewhere else and we said that we’d try to accommodate that.”
Asked if there is any chance Schultz could return to Washington even as a seventh or eighth defenseman next season, McPhee was mum.
“I’m not going to elaborate on that, but we’ll try to accommodate him.”
Schultz is entering the final year of a four-year $14 million deal he signed in July 2010. The deal includes a $2.75 million salary cap hit next season which could pose a challenge in trying to complete a trade.
If the Capitals are unable to trade Schultz, they could exercise one of their two compliance buyouts – a move that would eliminate the $2.75 hit against Washington’s salary cap and leave Schultz as a free agent.