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2024 Stanley Cup Champions

Florida Panthers Get Another Veteran at a Big Discount



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Nate Schmidt, pictured here with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2020, is signing a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers after being bought out by Winnipeg on Sunday. (Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire)

Whether it is a young player looking to get their career going, or a veteran trying to kick things back into gear, signing with the Florida Panthers has been a good move the past couple of years.

Nate Schmidt certainly hopes there is some magic left in those South Florida waters.

The Panthers signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year deal at a fraction of what he made with the Winnipeg Jets last season.

When Winnipeg bought out the final year of his contract which carried a $5.95 million cap hit on Sunday, Schmidt went looking for a new home.

Playing for coach Paul Maurice again, and being part of the Panthers, must have sounded pretty good — especially since he is getting around $4 million from the Jets not to play for them this coming season.

Hey, it has worked for the likes of Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Wennberg, Anthony Duclair, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and others over the years.

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Tomas Nosek, who has spent nine years in the NHL and played with Schmidt in Vegas, is one of those players also looking for a nice change of scenery with the Panthers.

So far in free agency, general manager Bill Zito has signed a handful of players since it opened Monday.

All of them have been for under $1 million for this coming season.

Florida still has about $6 million under the cap with Anton Lundell still to be signed.

“One of our goals, apart from the family culture of the team, is trying to get players to come and to fit, have as many good players as possible,’’

“It’s the chance of the future to maximize your career. Hopefully, we can keep have guys come, have that coaching staff bring the best out of them, have them be successful as teammates as part of a team and as individuals.

“We may not have the money other teams do, but we have opportunity. Take advantage of the opportunity.’’

Schmidt, who only played under Maurice for a few months during the 2021-22 season in Winnipeg, was rumored to be headed to the Panthers in 2020 during Zito’s first few months on the job.

The Vegas Golden Knights needed to trade Schmidt to clear cap space to sign Alex Pietrangelo — but traded him to Vancouver instead for a third-round pick. 

Schmidt, an original member of the Golden Knights was traded to Winnipeg after his one season with the Canucks.

With Florida losing Brandon Montour and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to free agency, the Panthers were looking for a veteran defenseman to play with either Niko Mikkola or Dmitry Kulikov.

Schmidt, who had been a healthy scratch in Winnipeg last year, moves the puck well, can kill penalties and get in on the power play.

More FHN Coverage of the Stanley Cup Champion Panthers:

  • NHL Free Agency: Opened Monday
  • Florida Panthers Development Camp, Fort Lauderdale: Starts July 8
  • Florida Panthers Training Camp, Fort Lauderdale: Mid-September
  • Florida Panthers Preseason: Sept. 22-Oct. 5
  • Florida Panthers Opening Night/Banner Unveiling: Oct. 8 vs. Bruins

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