Shortly after falling to the Vancouver Canucks, 3–2, in a shootout Wednesday night, the Vegas Golden Knights took to twitter to make an announcement. The team tweeted at 10:08 p.m. defenseman Nate Schmidt signed a six-year contract extension, keeping him with the Golden Knights until the 2024-25 season.
This extension does two things for the team. It’s the Knights making sure to lock up a young, and popular, defender and it’s a show of faith. Offering Schmidt a long-term contract while he’s serving a 20-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, which Schmidt appealed, is the team saying that they trust him.
It’s a sign of belief that the suspension is an aberration and that he is a part of the team’s future. Schmidt quickly became a fan favorite last season on the team’s road to the Stanley Cup, picking up 36 points with five goals, over the course of the season, surpassing his previous career high of 17 points and three goals.
Needless to say, the Golden Knights were happy to lock him up for the foreseeable future.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 25, 2018
The gifted defenseman was the most heavily used skater on the Knights, spending 1,690 minutes on the ice. His time was second only to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Schmidt also had the fifth highest average time on the ice, logging 22 minutes, 14 seconds per game played, behind only Fleury and his fellow goaltenders Malcolm Subban, Maxime Lagace and Oscar Dansk.
Schmidt’s extension will keep him with the Golden Knights until the 2024-25 season. He is the seventh member of the inaugural Knights team to sign a long-term extension, joining; Fleury, right winger Alex Tuch, defenseman Shea Theodore, defenseman Brayden McNabb, center Jonathan Marchessault and defenseman Colin Miller.
When he returns from his suspension, Schmidt will have to find his place on this season’s defense. The offseason addition of defenseman Nick Holden has shifted the line pairings for the team. With Holden and Theodore entrenched on the first line, there are a few places Schmidt can find himself.
The most likely option will be paired with McNabb on the second line. The two were dynamic as a duo last season and can reignite that fire. The two were routinely praised for their work as penalty killers throughout the regular season.
Schmidt could also find himself working with Miller on the second line, bumping McNabb down to the third. The Knights could also take Holden, one of the team’s newest players, and move him down to the second line so Theodore and Schmidt could become the first line duo. With each one signing an extension this season, Theodore and Schmidt will stay in Vegas until 2025.
No matter where in the lineup Schmidt falls, Brad Hunt will most likely me the man out of the rotation. His contract is up at the end of this season, he’s making the league minimum salary and he is four years older than Jon Merrill, his partner on the third line.
He originally came into the league as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Washington Capitals. He stayed with the Capitals until 2017 when he was taken by the Knights in the team’s expansion draft. When the Knights made the Stanley Cup, it was Schmidt who was front and center as the team’s only former Capital.
Schmidt will be eligible to return to the team for their Nov. 18 matchup with the Edmonton Oilers.