CHICAGO — Leading up to the Vegas Golden Knights’ Expansion Draft Wednesday, it seemed like the whole league was working on deals with Knights general manager George McPhee to keep players away from the new club. The Capitals, however, were unable to work out a deal to keep rising top-four defenseman Nate Schmidt in DC.
The 25-year-old restricted free agent, who will likely more than double his $812,500 salary from last season, was one of the league’s top possession defensemen and a smooth skating puck mover, something prized in today’s NHL. In the Capitals’ quest for the Stanley Cup in the 2017 playoffs, perhaps their best chance ever at capturing the iconic, franchise defining trophy, Schmidt was one of the team’s best players. Now he is gone from the roster, with nothing in return.