For weeks now, the talk amongst NHL fans has been who the Vegas Golden Knights, the newest NHL franchise, would be selecting in the NHL Expansion Draft; the selections were announced tonight during the NHL Award Show in, coincidentally, Las Vegas. The two most likeliest candidates from the Capitals were defenseman Nate Schmidt and goalie Philipp Grubauer. As of tonight, Schmidt will no longer be a Capital.
Per CSN MidAtlantic’s Jill Sorenson, the Vegas Golden Knights have opted to select Schmidt as their pick in the first Expansion Draft in almost 20 years. Per hockey insider, Pierre LeBrun, our Caps tried making a deal with Vegas to steer them away from selecting Schmidt, but the price was too high.
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota, Schmidt has played parts of four seasons in the NHL, with his most productive coming this past year with 17 points in 60 games played. Over the past three seasons, Schmidt has been entrusted with more playing time and responsibilities and did enough to catch the eye of Vegas General Manager George McPhee, who signed Schmidt during his time as GM in Washington. Had he not been selected, Schmidt would have played in a full-time Top 4 role next season for the Caps.
In four seasons as a member of the Capitals, Schmidt recorded 43 (eight goals, 35 assists) points in 200 games played, while finishing his Washington career with a plus/minus rating of plus-36. At just 25-years old (he’ll be 26 on July 16th), Schmidt has not yet reached what many consider the prime of his career and should have many more productive years ahead of him!
Schmidt has become one of the most popular players on the Capitals over the last few seasons thanks to his always upbeat personality and seemingly endless passion for the game of hockey. NoVa Caps wishes Schmidt the best of luck in Vegas!
By Michael Fleetwood