The Vegas Golden Knights announced on Monday night that they have traded defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to make room under the NHL salary cap to sign unrestricted free agent Alex Pietrangelo, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman. Pietrangelo could be closing in on a seven-year contract with the team that will carry an $8.8 million cap hit.
Schmidt will enter the second season of a six-year contract that carries a cap hit of $5.95 million in 2020-21.
The 29-year-old recorded seven goals, 31 points, and a +11 rating in 59 regular-season games before posting two goals, nine points, and an event rating in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Golden Knights last season. During the regular season, Schmidt had a 53.17% Corsi-for percentage and a 53.06% expected goals-for percentage.
Schmidt’s average of 21:41 of ice-time per game last season was second on the team (behind defenseman Shea Theodore’s average of 22:14) while he also averaged 1:03 on the power-play and 1:36 on the penalty kill.
With the addition of Schmidt, the Canucks improve their defense after it was tied for 19th with an average of 3.10 goals-against per game and a penalty kill that ranked 16th with an 80.5% penalty-killing efficiency during the regular season. Schmidt will likely play on the second defensive pairing for the Canucks behind sophomore Quinn Hughes, who came in second for the Calder Trophy (given to the NHL’s rookie of the year) this past season. The Canucks fell to Schmidt and the Golden Knights in Game 7 of the second round in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Schmidt was the Golden Knights’ selection from the Washington Capitals in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. The Capitals signed him as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota in 2013.
In 396 career regular-season games with the Capitals and Golden Knights, he has recorded 29 goals, 140 points, and a +88 rating. In 68 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Schmidt has posted six goals, 25 points, and a +12 rating.
His best season came in 2017-18 when he set career-highs in assists (31) and points (36) and posted a +19 rating.
In 200 career games with the Capitals, Schmidt recorded eight goals, 43 points, and a +36 rating. The Capitals penciled him to be in their top-four defense corps for the following season as they were set to lose Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency before the Golden Knights swiped him in the expansion draft.
The Capitals attempted to make a trade to protect Schmidt in the expansion draft but the cost was goaltender Philipp Grubauer and forward Tom Wilson.
Schmidt joins former Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who signed a two-year contract that carries a cap hit of $4.3 million with the Canucks on Friday, and center Jay Beagle. Schmidt and Holtby were good friends during Schmidt’s tenure in Washington.
Nate Schmidt, traded to VAN, is a top-pairing two way defenceman whose defensive numbers took a hit this past season. Notably, he faced some of the toughest minutes in the league with Vegas. #Canucks pic.twitter.com/dqTlA26b5M
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) October 13, 2020
By Harrison Brown