Unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, Vegas and Nate Schmidt turned to arbitration to meet somewhere in the middle. The arbiter's ruling did just that...but not by much.
After seeking a one-year deal for $2.75 million from Vegas, Schmidt was awarded a two-year, $4.5 million deal with an average salary of $2.25 million per season according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. That deal is significantly higher than Vegas’ ask of two-years at $975,000 per season.
The Golden Knights now have the option of accepting the ruling or walking away which would make Schmidt an unrestricted free agent.
Before Caps fans begin to dream of a scenario in which Schmidt could re-sign in Washington, it seems unlikely that Vegas would walk from the ruling. And, even if they did, it would be hard for the Caps to fit Schmidt within the salary cap.
According to Cap Friendly, Vegas has about $5.6 million of cap space remaining and that is with Schmidt’s contract included. This is a team with plenty of cap room and no reason to be stingy on an up-and-coming defenseman.
Washington, on the other hand, only has about $4 million worth of cap space and that is with five defensemen and 10 forwards under contract. The Caps need that remaining money for prospects to bolster the roster and likely could not afford to spend $2.25 million of it on one defenseman without shedding salary.
Schmidt was selected by Vegas after he was left exposed by Washington in the expansion draft. He played in only 60 games in the regular season for the Caps, but played well in the playoffs. HIs performance had him penciled in as a top-four defenseman for the Caps next season, but also likely caught the eye of Golden Knights general manager George McPhee which led to his selection.
UPDATE: The Golden Knights announced last night that they came to terms with Schmidt on a two-year contract, worth $4.5 million.
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