7:35PM: Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic notes that the Panthers have not completed a deal for Schmidt. Considering their cap situation, a trade of someone making a sizable salary will need to happen before they can finalize any contract with Pietrangelo.
5:59 PM: While the talk the last hour or so has been with the Vegas Golden Knights looking to deal one of their defenseman to the Winnipeg Jets to make room for an Alex Pietrangelo signing, now Fox Sports Andy Strickland reports that Vegas is expected to send defenseman Nate Schmidt and his contract of five years at $5.95MM, is heading to the Florida Panthers. No word yet on the return.
Schmidt has been a big component for the Golden Knights since their inception. The blueliner was one of the Golden Knights selections in the expansion draft and has been one of their top minutes eaters since joining the team. While likely being surpassed as the team’s top defenseman last season by the improved play of defenseman Shea Theodore, Schmidt has been a key face for the Golden Knights franchise and a major locker room presence, going back to the Golden Misfit days. Last year, the 29-year-old blueliner averaged 21:41 of ice time, while posting seven goals and 31 points last year, while providing solid defense for the Golden Knights.
In Florida, Schmidt should immediately fill a significant role for the Panthers that was hurting on the defensive end. Last year, Florida spent significant money on free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled out of the gate, much due to the fact that the Panthers defense was subpar, even under first-year head coach Joel Quenneville. This offseason, Florida has re-tooled their defense, moving multiple players out. The speedy Schmidt should fit in well besides Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Anton Stralman and newly acquired Radko Gudas and Markus Nutivaara.
Teams are only able to go more than 10% above the Upper Limit during the offseason which is $89.65MM. Accordingly, this deal will seemingly need to be finalized before Pietrangelo’s contract can be made official.