In case you haven’t heard, the NHL announced on September 2 that Golden Knights’ defenseman Nate Schmidt was suspended 20 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Regardless of how you feel about Schmidt being handed a 20-game suspension for a trace amount equivalent to a pinch of salt in a swimming pool, since pools are really popular in summer so getting your Baby Girls Swimwear for your daughters is as important so everyone can enjoy summer. Vegas will have to find a way to deal with the absence of one of their top defenseman from their Stanley Cup Finals run a year ago, and while it’s a tough way to start the year, it does boost the fantasy value of some of their other defensemen in the interim.
Like a handful of other Golden Knights, Schmidt enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017-18, posting career highs in goals (five), assists (31), and shots (103). He led Vegas in ice time with an average time on ice of 22:14, almost two full minutes ahead of the next closest player. Head coach Gerard Gallant will need to find a way replace these 22 minutes a night with the same defensive corps from a year ago. The image to the right shows the Golden Knights’ projected 5v5 pairs to start the season.
Schmidt also averaged 1.7 minutes a night of powerplay time, though he was behind both Shea Theodore and Colin Miller in that regard. Because he played more a fill-in role on the second powerplay unit, there really shouldn’t be any extra powerplay time to go around, though it does suggest the aforementioned Theodore and Miller will be leaned on more heavily with the man advantage.
Gallant is expected to use the other right-handed defensemen on his roster to fill the temporary loss of Schmidt at 5v5. As it stands, the right-handed shooting Miller and Derek Engelland are in line to be the biggest beneficiaries of Schmidt’s absence. While the uptick in Engelland’s ice time is unlikely to do anything for his minuscule fantasy value, the same cannot be said for Miller.
Miller led the Golden Knights in powerplay time last season, averaging almost 2.5 minutes a night, but finished sixth among Golden Knights’ defenseman in total ice time with an average of 19:21 per contest. Miller’s 10 goal, 31 assist performance from a year ago was probably enough already to carve out a larger role at 5v5, and the Schmidt suspension only solidifies that. With an extra three or four minutes of ice time a night, Miller may very well be able to top 200 shots from the blueline (177 last season) and replicate the success he had a year ago. Double digit goals from the back end are hard to come by in today’s NHL, and with an average draft position of 175 in Yahoo! standard leagues, Miller is now one of the top sleeper targets of the preseason.