Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Golden Knights Give Away Point; Schmidt Re-signs for 6 Years, $35.7 Million

October 25, 2018, 5:57 AM ET [3 Comments]
Sheng Peng
Vegas Golden Knights Blogger •Vegas Golden Knights Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

The Golden Knights gave away a point on Wednesday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks.

But there was bigger news after the game, as Vegas extended impending UFA Nate Schmidt with a six-year, $35.7 million dollar extension. The contract carries a 10-team no-trade clause of an unannounced length.

Winning Play

Before we get to Schmidt, let's briefly discuss the game.

If we agree Vancouver is an unremarkable team -- and also add that they lost Sven Baertschi, Alex Edler, and Chris Tanev during this contest -- the multiple breakaways and lost coverages allowed by Vegas, which led to a 2-2 deadlock after two frames, was not acceptable hockey. Granted, the Canucks were sloppy too, but are we comparing the Golden Knights to last year's Western Conference champs or to cellar-dwellers?

It wasn't just about Vancouver's two goals -- which included a Bo Horvat breakaway -- but also the near-misses, like open net whiffs by Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen, a Brandon Sutter dead-slot chance, and a Loui Eriksson short-handed breakway that convicts Vegas.

Am I being hard on a squad that had won three in a row? Or was this loss a microcosm of a season pockmarked by alarming defensive lapse after lapse?

Let's remember a 2-3 road trip that really should've been 1-4, and losses to Buffalo, Washington, and Pittsburgh which were defined by...multiple breakaways and lost coverages allowed by Vegas.

"I think we looked across at the opponent and thought we were going to walk through them," Ryan Reaves offered. "If you don't play your best game every night, any team can win in this league."

On the bright side, an air-tight final frame, featuring just five Canucks shots -- two of which came well outside the zone -- presented a model for the Golden Knights to follow.

Gerard Gallant acknowledged, "We got mentally ready to play in the third period more than we did in the first two periods.

"Again, tonight we gave up some odd-man rushes for no apparent reason. They made some good plays, but we were a little bit sleepy.

"Third period, I thought we played a lot better. We were prepared to play."

Offensively, this Vegas group is unexceptional right now -- from William Karlsson and Erik Haula's possible regression to Max Pacioretty's slump to Paul Stastny's injury to Shea Theodore and Colin Miller's lack of production -- so defensively, they need to tighten up. Let's not forget too that Marc-Andre Fleury is unlikely to completely duplicate last year's career campaign.

So as the cliche goes, good defense will lead to good offense.

But here, bad defense resulted in a lost point, which may matter yet in April.


About Schmidt, it's another big bet by George McPhee.

But like recent extensions to Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch, they're reasonable gambles on a younger talent. If McPhee hits the trifecta, we're talking a pair of cost-controlled top-four blueliners and a top-six winger for the next six seasons. If it doesn't work out, well, it's probably somebody else's problem to fix.

But McPhee's logic is sound. Schmidt emerged as a true top-pairing defenseman, valuable in all situations last year. Was Schmidt just a one-hit wonder? That unanswered question explains why the final figure for the impending UFA was a shade less than $6 million per.

If Schmidt isn't a one-hit wonder, he almost certainly becomes more expensive, possibly a lot more, this summer.

There aren't many recent UFA comps for the 27-year-old Schmidt, but he might've surpassed a 29-year-old Ryan McDonagh's seven-year, $47.25 million dollar extension ($6.75 million AAV), signed last July with Tampa Bay, or a 28-year-old Kevin Shattenkirk's four-year, $26.6 million dollar contract ($6.65 million AAV), signed two years ago with New York. On the open market, he also could've eclipsed a 30-year-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic's eight-year, $56 million dollar pact ($7 millon AAV), also inked two summers ago.

"He is a kind of defenseman that every team in this league is looking for now," said McPhee. "He is unique, excellent defensively, and has become a shutdown defenseman for us playing against the other clubs' top players. But he also brings a lot of pace to the game and offense."


Let's hash out the Golden Knights' potential salary structure next year. Obviously, re-signing Schmidt, Alex Tuch, and Shea Theodore offers much clarity.

Here are conjectures on some remaining questions:

• Let's say Karlsson scores about 25 this year. So he's not a true-blue elite 1C, but a still plenty valuable top-six two-way center. He's still an RFA, a season from being a UFA. In a similar situation, Mikael Granlund inked a three-year, $17.25 million dollar contract ($5.75 million AAV) with Minnesota in August 2017. I'm going to put down Karlsson for a four-year, $28 million dollar agreement ($7 million AAV). Obviously, if Wild Bill scores a lot more than 25, he'll get more expensive.

• UFA Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will be 34 this summer. Just his age is a significant argument for letting him walk, but so far this season, he's been arguably the team's most consistent pivot. Making $1.45 million this year, let's give him a two-year, $3.5 million dollar contract ($1.75 million AAV).

• While RFA Tomas Nosek has shown flashes of being more than a fourth-liner so far, it's also telling that his auditions on the second line and the power play ended so abruptly. Let's say he swings ably between the third and fourth lines this year, raising his $962,000 this season to $1.5 million.

• RFA Malcolm Subban has a chance to solidify himself as a top back-up/future starter. If he does, perhaps the exact duplicate of Nashville back-up Juuse Saros's three-year, $4.5 million dollar pact ($1.5 million AAV), signed in July 2018, would be in order. Interestingly, such an agreement would expire with Fleury's in the summer of 2022.

• I'm allowing UFAs Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Ryan Carpenter, and Oscar Lindberg to walk in this projection. Letting fan favorite Engelland go will be especially hard, but presuming RFA Jake Bischoff shows something this year, there's an argument for letting youth like he and Erik Brannstrom step up. However, Engelland can slide into Bischoff's potential dollar figure too.

Here's my 2019-20 salary projection:

View post on imgur.com

The biggest questions here?

• What will Karlsson's dollar figure be? He could well be a $9 million dollar center by the end of this season.

• How about Nikita Gusev? Previously, I had projected him at a three-year, $15 million dollar contract ($5 million AAV), using Evgeni Dadonov's three-year, $12 million dollar ($4 million AAV) and Vadim Shipachyov's two-year, $9 million dollar ($4.5 million AAV) agreements from the summer of 2017 as templates. However, as pointed out by Ken Boehlke (of SinBin.Vegas), Vegas property Gusev isn't a UFA at the moment, like Dadonov and Shipachyov were. That said, Gusev does have leverage insofar as if he plays 2019-20 in the KHL, he will become a UFA. So it would behoove Vegas to give him a healthy offer if they want him to try the US next year. Anyway, bringing him in would probably put Cody Eakin or Haula's roster spot in question.

Projecting an $84 million dollar cap, which might be generous, as I'm matching the $4.5 million dollar bump from 2017-18 to 2018-19, my current projection leaves McPhee with about $2.25 million to play with.


By the way, McPhee also addressed the growth in Schmidt's defensive game from Washington:

"The knock on him was that he wasn’t a good defender, he was the guy that brings the speed and moves the puck, but he didn’t defend very well before we got him.

"I think the coaches, Ryan McGill in particular, did a terrific job with him. They showed a lot of faith in him, threw him out there in all the situations, and just let him grow into his game. He competes harder than he ever has, he likes playing against the top players, knows how to use his mobility effectively.

"Ryan taught him a lot of things about how to play around the net, and like a lot of our players, they wanted that opportunity to play higher in the lineup than they had in other places."


++++I AM CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR ADVERTISERS! If you, or anyone you know would be interested in placing an ad here at HockeyBuzz, then send me a PM!++++

Join the Discussion: » 3 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Sheng Peng
» Golden Knights Top Senators 4-3; Work Announcement
» Kucherov & Stamkos Dissect Golden Knights, Lightning Win 3-2
» Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves Show Off Model Golden Knights Hockey in 3-1 Win
» Scouts Say Tuch's Talent Should Make 7-Year Extension Well Worth It
» Anatomy of Perfect Power Play Drop Pass; Golden Knights Win 4-1