One year ago Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt was just a sixth or seventh defenseman on a deep Washington Capitals team. Flash forward a year and he’s playing top pairing minutes for one of the best teams in hockey… oh and he’s just three wins away from a Stanley Cup championship victory over his former team. What a year. What a crazy year.
The thing is… things weren’t supposed to play out this way. Vegas general manager George McPhee, who originally scouted and signed Schmidt himself during his tenure as the Capitals’ long-time GM, showed no hesitation in selecting the 26 year old blue liner during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. According to a report from The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan then reached out to McPhee to see if they could come to terms on a deal for Schmidt’s return. No dice:
Asked McPhee about how it went down with getting Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft. He said Brian MacLellan reached out after Schmidt was selected to see if they could make a deal to get him back. McPhee says they really liked Schmidt so they asked a high price of the Caps...
In the end, no trade was ever close. Vegas was happy to keep Schmidt, the guy they wanted
Now, thanks to a report from the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga we have inside knowledge of what McPhee’s demands are. Check out this quote from Svrluga’s latest WaPo column:
MacLellan, though, asked if there was a two-player package that might allow the Knights to stay away from Schmidt. The counter, according to someone with knowledge of the talks: Wilson /and/goalie Philipp Grubauer.
Interesting. Schmidt or Wilson and Grubauer? Which would you rather have? For what it’s worth, both teams seem to have made out well with their decision. Schmidt broke out in a big way with Vegas this season, scoring a career high five goals and 36 points in 76 games. This following a 17 point campaign in 2016-17 with the Capitals.
As for Wilson and Grubauer, they’ve both been integral to the Caps’ success this year. With the former playing top line minutes alongside superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the latter holding down things in the case while Braden Holtby stumbled.
So, while no deal was ever consummated between the teams, it’s still interesting to get an inside perspective into their negotiations.