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Golden Knights And Jimmy Schuldt Headed For Sticky Situation

In his journey home following the fall of Troy, the Greek mythological hero Odysseus was faced with an impossible choice at the Strait of Messina. On one side of the tight channel of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland was Scylla, a six-headed monster known for snatching up sailors directly from the hulls of their ship. On the other side was Charybdis, a whirlpool that sucks in and drowns ships of all sizes. Odysseus knew the only way home was to go through, so he had to pick a way. After much consideration, he selected to sail closer to Scylla’s side, and while the ship made it through, the monster gobbled up six members of Odysseus’ crew. No matter which way he picked, it was going to be bad.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are headed towards their own Strait of Messina with the contract situation of Jimmy Schuldt. The 24-year-old Hobey Baker finalist selected Vegas, among a reported 30 offers, and signed his NHL regulated entry-level contract. He joined the team for a month, played in one game, and then had to watch from the press box as he was ineligible to participate in either the NHL or AHL playoffs. His contract expired following the season now just two days away from the start of Rookie Camp (three from on-ice), Schuldt remains without a second contract.

As Schuldt’s “ship” sails towards City National Arena, there’s Scylla, signing a contract too early and giving up money, on one side and Charybdis, holding out and missing the start of camp, on the other.

Schuldt is in the worst spot a player can be in negotiation-wise under the current CBA. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, meaning he can only negotiate with the Golden Knights (he’s not even eligible for an offer sheet) and he doesn’t have the ability to allow a 3rd party arbitrator to decide on a contract like other RFAs with more NHL service time. Thus, his only true leverage in negotiation is withholding his services. In other words, holding out of training camp.

That being said, missing camp for Schuldt is not like missing camp for Shea Theodore or William Nylander last year, or Mitch Marner this year. Schuldt hasn’t yet proven himself on the NHL level, and with a roster spot wide open, he needs to be in rookie games, preseason games, and in training camp to win the job.

By NHL rule, Schuldt cannot participate in any official team activities without signing a contract. So even if he wanted to come and prove himself before he signs the deal, the CBA forbids it.

Then there are the Golden Knights, who spent the entire offseason selling off pieces in order to become cap compliant. What they are left with is a roster still fully capable of winning the Stanley Cup, but in need of significant contribution from at least one rookie blueliner. Schuldt currently represents the best option to be that contributor. Scylla, signing Schuldt to an overpaid deal when he has no leverage, is on one side, and Charybdis, watching their best defensive prospect miss camp over less than 1% of the salary cap is on the other.

No matter which way they go, there are potential drawbacks, but one way would continue a disturbing path the Golden Knights have followed this offseason.

If Schuldt were to remain unsigned on Thursday, it would be yet another example of a focus on the long-term financials getting in the way of winning the 2020 Stanley Cup. That’s been the theme of the 2019 offseason. Rather than sticking their feet in the ground and going all-in on winning this year (when they certainly have the roster to do it), the Golden Knights have kicked the can down the road over and over and over again to serve the future (when they don’t know what their roster is going to look like). It happened with Haula, Miller, Carpenter, Bellemare, and especially Gusev. If Jimmy Schuldt misses a second of time in training camp, it might be the worst example yet.

It may seem like a stretch now, considering the Golden Knights remain a legitimate contender to hoist the Cup, but if anything but that happens, this offseason will be second-guessed more than the government’s decision to ban alcohol in 1920. (For those non-history buffs, they unbanned it in 1933. It was called prohibition, and you really should have paid more attention in school.)

It’s truly a lose-lose-lose-lose situation for everyone. No matter which side cracks, or even how hard they crack, someone is going to get burned. Schuldt waits, he might give up his best chance to play in the NHL. The Golden Knights wait, and they might further hinder their chances to develop a promising young player. Schuldt signs and he’s probably leaving at least a bit of money on the table. The Golden Knights sign and they may feel they overpaid a player that had absolutely no leverage in negotiation in order to get him on the ice in time for camp.

Scylla’s on one side, Charybdis is on the other. Someone has to make the decision… soon.

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18 Comments

  1. Mike G

    “the Golden Knights have kicked the can down the road over and over and over again to serve the future “

    I get so tired of hearing this.. They locked up the two best players on the team in Stone and Karlsson. Gusev wanted more money than Knights could pay him so they did the best they could and at least got some assets for him. This isn’t fantasy hockey. None of those other players we lost were going to change our odds of winning the Cup. I will take our chances with Karlsson over Gusev any day. There was no way we were keeping both at the contract prices they both were demanding

    • What has this team done to get better in regards to winning the 2020 Cup? From the moment the season ended to now.

      • Mike G

        They locked up their top center at a great price so that albatross wasn’t hanging around his neck at every postgame press conference. They have young guys ready to step in and replace the minor pieces they lost. You have every good player on the team locked up. There is still some flexibility to make a move at the trade deadline. Sure I would love to have Gusev… but at some point you cannot pay every player what they want.

    • Bill

      They couldn’t keep everyone but they had options to keep more than they did and trim some overpaid lower end players still on the team. Had to keep Haula or Gusev getting rid of both makes the forward depth on the top 6 almost nonexistent.

  2. Joseph Biase

    Don’t these young pukes play for the love of the game anymore. What l’d do to be the Bill “Goldie” Goldthorpe of the Vegas Golden Knights. These players are brats.

  3. David

    I don’t why a 1 year, million + deal, followed by a longer term deal next offseason (when they have more money) is that big of a deal.

  4. Michael

    Ken, when Schuldt chose Vegas over these other suitors, did he not have leverage to seek a multi-year contract? At least a multi-year 2-way contract?

  5. Scott

    Career wise, the best thing for Schuldt to do is accept whatever contract is offered, and at least ask for the shortest term. He’s 24, not 19 or 20, so he is closer to his prime than many, and hasn’t seen full time or really any, NHL action. Sucks for him to be in this situation, but his priority should be to make it to the NHL as soon as possible, and let his play determine the business side of it.

  6. the once great HOCKEY GOD-retired

    Is his agent the same as Gusov ? (or however you spell that long gone Russian)?

    IS this another case of player wanting out of Vegas ? Why are there so many (Russian no.1, Russian no2, Tatar, Perron, Neal). The parade goes on. And we are stuck with likes of RR ?!??

  7. DOC

    WOW! Greek mythology AND prohibition. We get it all here during off season!!! Come ON season GET HERE!!!!!!! DOC:)

  8. Tim Fink

    Vegas has the lore to bring in just about anyone they want Nikita Gusev being one example and now Jimmy Schumldt. I think they evaluate players and if they don’t think their going to help they trade them for more draft choices. Another situation were going to have are our 2 Russian prospects Ivan and Pavel who are 2 of the 3 front line for the Russian under 20 team. My guess is they’ll never play for Vegas. We’ve got a nice team and management has done a great job but were not going to win a Stanley Cup with our Blue Line personal.

  9. DOC

    NO sticky situation! HE’S SIGNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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