One of the few remaining arbitration cases left on the docket, Nate Schmidt is the Vegas Golden Knights’ final restricted free agent to sign this summer. Though he has a hearing scheduled for Thursday, August 3rd, Schmidt and the team are still hoping to get something done before the meeting according to Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Schmidt turned 26 a few weeks ago, and has two years of team control left. If the Golden Knights choose a one-year arbitration award, he would remain a restricted free agent again next summer and be eligible to repeat the process. Otherwise, any contract longer than two years would start buying out unrestricted free agent years, driving the price noticeably higher. Schmidt is coming off an interesting season where he averaged less than 15 and a half minutes a night but was dynamic and explosive every time he was given a bigger opportunity. He recorded 17 points in just 60 games, and could easily be the Golden Knights’ highest-scoring defenseman this season.
He’s coming off a contract that paid him just $875K last season, and it will be interesting to see how high the Golden Knights are willing to go and if they even want to lock him up long term. As we’ve looked at before, the team is clearly preparing itself to move several players at the trade deadline this year, and Schmidt would hold a lot of value on a short-term deal. If they don’t believe he can be part of the first winning Vegas team—which could happen sooner than you think—getting him under a reasonable cap number without buying out UFA seasons makes him a very appealing target around the league.