The Vegas Golden Knights have had a busy off-season in the lead-up to their first NHL season, and Gary Lawless laid out some of what still lies ahead for the fledgling franchise. Most notably, the team has to sign RFA Nate Schmidt, the former Washington defenseman who showed great promise as a productive player. PHR’s Gavin Lee touched on the reportedly productive manner of the talks a few days back, but he is one of the more intriguing names left on the arbitration docket. Schmidt will likely be a pivotal piece of their defense for years, as the team resisted trading him away to teams desperate for defensive help, opting instead to move older names.
Schmidt shouldn’t be too expensive in arbitration, as he only has 43 points through 200 career games. Still, Vegas seems intent to lock him up on a longer deal, and considering that they’ve cleared their focus of other distractions, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a deal get done soon. If the parties come to an agreement, it would likely be above the $3 MM mark.
- Sports Illustrated ran an interesting piece highlighting the Blackhawks’ strategy of re-acquiring old players. Brandon Saad in particular sounds thrilled to be back in Chicago with Coach Joel Quenneville. Saad had two 53-point seasons in Columbus, but at only 24, he still has room to improve. It sounds like the plan is to re-unite him with captain Jonathan Toews, to try to spark the captain with a familiar linemate. Toews ended the season with a respectable 21 goals and 58 points, but struggled mightily to score for long stretches of time before a stellar home stretch. Saad will have big shoes to fill to replace the incredibly dynamic Artemi Panarin, however, and Patrick Kane’s line will likely see a huge hit in production in order to achieve greater balance in the lineup.
- After the announcement that Marian Hossa is indefinitely sidelined due to a degenerate skin disorder, Blackhawks players unsurprisingly see the situation as “heartbreaking”. Hossa will not skate in 2017-18 due his medical need to discontinue NHL play. Hossa has a solid case for the Hall of Fame when he decides to retire, and being an important part of three Cup-winning teams, his loss is hard to calculate prior to the start of the season. Saad’s return may help fill some of that void, especially with Toews, but his production still will be near impossible to replace internally. More than that, however, he was arguably Blackhawks’ best defensive forward, backchecking consistently and with purpose. It will be interesting to see how the stretched-thin defense, minus Niklas Hjalmarsson, copes with one less Selke-caliber forward assisting their efforts.