Nate Schmidt is one of the final arbitration cases and is due to have a hearing on Thursday morning in Toronto with the Vegas Golden Knights. The two sides traded figures today, with the team offering a two-year deal worth a total of $1.95MM while Schmidt is looking for a one-year $2.75MM award according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
Schmidt is the final restricted free agent left to sign for the Golden Knights, who are still working towards avoiding arbitration with the young defender. With two years left before he hits unrestricted free agency, the team opted for the two-year term that will take him right to the open market. As discussed previously, the Golden Knights are clearly trying to position themselves as a player at the trade deadline, and seem uninterested in players signed for more than two years.
While they could still reach a longer term deal with Schmidt, it’s not clear if they view him as a long-term piece of the franchise or a valuable asset that can continue to kick start a build through the draft. The dynamic skater could easily be one of the top options for a team this deadline looking to shore up their defense, especially after the excellent showing he had in the playoffs for the Washington Capitals. Schmidt almost made Karl Alzner obsolete, arguably playing better than him when the now-Montreal Canadien went down to injury in the first round.
Schmidt is coming off a year where he made $875K, so Vegas is offering him a very modest raise heading into next season. As always, these are outer limits for the negotiation and an arbitration decision would almost certainly come somewhere in the middle. In 60 games, Schmidt put up 17 points and was generally effective, though he still doesn’t have a very high profile among fans mostly due to his lack of draft pedigree. He was signed out of the University of Minnesota in 2013.