Nate Schmidt has quietly, unless you are anywhere within earshot of him physically, become one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL. He is relied upon each and every night to shut down the opposition’s top line and throughout the postseason he has two goals, four assists, a +7 rating and has taken just one penalty.
He’s a player any team would love to have. At this time last year, the Washington Capitals had him, and if they had it their way, they would have never lost him in the Expansion Draft.
We made our selection, and then (Capitals GM Brian MacLellan) called and asked if there’s any way we could do a deal for him to get Schmidt back, and I said, I don’t see anything, but we’ll try to come up with something to give you a chance to say no. So we made a proposal that I didn’t think would work, and it didn’t work because our guys like Schmidt. So we overreached on the ask, and that’s the way it went. -George McPhee
Yeah, in a couple discussions, I don’t think they fully disclosed who they were going to take, and they brought up a couple names that they were thinking about. And as we progressed, at some point they said we’re going to go with Schmidt. So I tried to get deals done to protect Schmidt, and it just didn’t make sense for what they were asking. So consequently, we had to let him go. -Brian MacLellan
So, early in the process, MacLellan tried to find out who the Golden Knights were planning to take. He’d call and ask, and McPhee wouldn’t give him anything. Then, when they finally got word it was Schmidt, it was too late as McPhee asked for the moon. McPhee was ruthless, even to a man he’s worked with for four decades.
It was businesslike. It was short, concise, and that’s about it. It’s not like the relationship is in total, where you’re talking as friends or somebody you’ve grown up with. It wasn’t that at all. It was pure business. -MacLellan
It’s a look at what every GM likely dealt with during the 72-hour Expansion Draft window, and it’s the reason the Golden Knights did so well during it.
Geroge McPhee played poker with the Expansion Draft rules, and he dominated. -Eddie Olczyk
This Expansion Draft was unlike any before, as were the men making the decisions. They knew which teams were in trouble, they knew which players they had to have, and they knew where to harvest the draft for picks.
George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the entire Golden Knights organization passed the test with flying colors. It’s why Vegas is hosting the Stanley Cup Final tonight and it’s why they’re set up to stay near the top of the league for years to come.
From the moment the Golden Knights were able to start competing against the rest of the NHL, they’ve been relentless, ferocious, and to this point nearly flawless both on and off the ice, and if they win four of the next seven, the word “nearly” won’t be needed anymore.
While McPhee played it correctly, so did MaClellan. While Nate has blossomed into a very good dman, Washington didn’t overreact like Minnesota, Florida Columbus etc.
They took their medicine of losing one player and moved on. No panic, just dealt with it.
I could never understand why they played Orpik over Schmidt. When GmGm announced they took Schmidt I was really happy. He was in my top 5 players to grab in the expansion draft.
Caps fan here (not a troll, promise)… I am not one of the legions of Caps fans that spend every waking moment (seemingly) trashing Orpik. And I think he’s had a really good postseason, mainly because he’s no longer in such heavy rotation. But the reason, I suspect, that they continued to play him so much up until this year (second half, to be clear) is that they are paying him a shit-load of money.
That was the worst FA signing that year. But they made up for it by signing Niskanen.