It was only a matter of time before Vegas made a move to shed some salary to fit in Alex Pietrangelo’s new deal which is now official. That trade has now been made as the Canucks announced that they’ve acquired defenseman Nate Schmidt from the Golden Knights for a 2022 third-round pick. GM Jim Benning released the following statement on the acquisition:
Nate has been one of the top defencemen in our division in recent years. He’s a dynamic player who competes hard all over the ice. I think he will be a really good fit in our group.
The 29-year-old joined Vegas via the expansion draft and went from a depth defenseman to a core player along the way. Last season, he had seven goals and 24 assists in 59 games, the highest point-per-game average of his career while logging 21:41 per night. He played even bigger minutes in the playoffs at just over 23 minutes a game in 20 postseason contests.
While serving a 20-game suspension for violating terms of the NHL’s performance-enhancing substances policy back in 2018, Schmidt signed a six-year, $35.7MM contract extension of which five years remain on it heading into next season. That deal also contains a 10-team no-trade clause. Vegas is not retaining at all on the contract, meaning that Vancouver will be absorbing the entirety of the deal.
It has been a tough offseason for the Canucks so far with the free agent departures of Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev (Calgary), Troy Stecher (Detroit), and Tyler Toffoli (Montreal) with Braden Holtby taking Markstrom’s spot between the pipes. Schmidt should step in nicely into the spot vacated by Tanev inside Vancouver’s top four.
Both teams appear to have some work to do still when it comes to their salary cap situation. Vancouver has just under $2MM in cap room per CapFriendly with forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette needing new deals. Meanwhile, Vegas is still nearly $1MM over the cap per CapFriendly and that’s only with carrying the minimum number of forwards on their roster. Assuming that they’ll want a spare, that will only add to what they have to try to clear in the coming weeks and months. Marc-Andre Fleury has been a speculative trade candidate for a while now but his market may be thin with most teams have their tandems in place already.
TSN’s Darren Dreger was first to report that Schmidt was heading to Vancouver.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.