The NHL's expansion draft rules allowed for the teams to protect a specific number of players, but for rosters as stacked as the Capitals' that means they still stand to lose a significant player.
Washington will most likely lose either goalie Philipp Grubauer or defenseman Nate Schmidt. A starting caliber goalie is a valuable commodity, but on the Caps he is the backup behind Braden Holtby and with Ilya Samsonov in the system, it is a loss the team can swallow. Losing Schmidt would sting worse because the team does not have another top-four defenseman to replace him with.
The possibility of losing him is a nerve-wracking scenario for the team, but don't worry, the Caps can still talk their way out of this.
Mafia boss Vegas general manager George McPhee just wants to know how much keeping Schmidt is worth to Washington.
The Caps aren't the only team worried about losing certain exposed players so McPhee has let his fellow general managers know they can negotiate over any player left exposed.
McPhee to colleagues: "You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish. Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 18, 2017
This is nice and all, but it also puts Washington general manager Brian MacLellan in a tough spot.
First, he would have to determine if Schmidt is a player worth making a deal to protect and if he is, just how high would he be willing to go? Before he even makes that call, however, he has to determine if Schmidt would even be McPhee's top choice. Of course there will be interest in Schmidt, but having a goalie like Grubauer available is pretty enticing. McPhee could also try to sign a free agent like Kevin Shattenkirk or T.J. Oshie. Even if MacLellan did not talk to Vegas at all, there's still a good possibility that they wouldn't take Schmidt as their expansion draft pick. For a Caps' team without many draft picks or prospects left to offer, MacLellan would be loath to offer Vegas any assets for a player they may not even want to take.
The important takeaway is that if Washington wants to keep a player like Schmidt who they project to have a top-four role next season, they can...for a price.
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