The Washington Capitals placed defenseman Jeff Schultz on unconditional waivers Tuesday with the intention of using the first of their two allotted compliance buyouts on him if he clears by noon Wednesday.
Schultz has spent his entire career with the Capitals up until this point, having been drafted by them with the 27th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. Once one of Washington's most relied-upon defensemen, the 27-year-old has fallen down the defensive depth chart over the last two seasons. After playing over 70 games during the 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, Schultz has appeared in only 80 combined regular-season games over the last two years.
Last season, Schultz fell victim to head coach Adam Oates's philosophy of playing his defensemen on their natural side, Therefore, Schultz, who shoots left, was the odd man out behind Karl Alzner, John Erskine and Jack Hillen and did not play after March 31.
Not happy with his lack of playing time, Schultz requested a trade in mid-March. General manager George McPhee was willing to accommodate that request, but the buyout would seem to indicate that he couldn't find a trade partner or a suitable return for the sporadically-used defenseman.
Over the next two years, the Capitals will have to pay Schultz $2 million -- two-thirds of the $3 million remaining on the four-year, $11 million he signed three summers ago. He will become an unrestricted free agent.
By removing Schultz's $2.75 million salary cap hit, Washington now has just over $9 million in space.
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