Report: Capitals expose Nate Schmidt in expansion draft

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The Washington Capitals have reportedly decided to go with the 7-3-1 option for their protected list ahead of the Vegas expansion draft.

That is according to Washington Post hockey writer Isabelle Khurshudyan, who expected the Capitals to protect Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and goalie Braden Holtby.

No real surprises with that list.

All 30 NHL clubs had to submit a protected list by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday — just two hours after the trade/waiver freeze began.

That would expose defenseman Nate Schmidt to the expansion draft. A pending restricted free agent, Schmidt scored three goals and 17 points this season — both single season career bests for him. He entered the playoffs due to an injury to Karl Alzner and played 11 postseason games before Washington was eliminated.

Schmidt, 25, also thought, based on his performance in the postseason, that he would be able to take the next step toward becoming a top-four defenseman in Washington. And with two pending unrestricted free agent defensemen — Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk — the opportunity could still be there if Vegas doesn’t take him.

“I thought the playoffs were really good for me personally,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic after a second-round exit versus Pittsburgh.

“I thought I could have brought a little bit more, especially in the last game. [But] I think that hopefully the management or the staff believes that I can make the next jump and move up to that ever elusive top-4.”