The Golden Knights’ final restricted free agent of the offseason is back in the fold.
Defenseman Jimmy Schuldt signed a one-year, $850,000 contract Thursday, the same day rookie camp opened with off-ice testing. The 24-year-old can now focus on impressing during the rest of the preseason as he aims to earn a spot on the Knights’ blue line.
“For me, I have an opportunity here, and hopefully I’m going to make the most of it,” said Schuldt, who arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday and has been participating in informal team skates. “I’m a lot older than some of the guys here, but I want to show them my work ethic and what I can bring to the table in all aspects on the ice and off the ice.”
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Schuldt, who had a decorated college career at St. Cloud State University, signed an entry-level deal with the Knights in April after drawing interest from nearly every team in the NHL.
His game isn’t flashy (he joked Thursday he hasn’t had a breakaway since peewee hockey) but it’s well-rounded, polished and should stand out among his younger teammates.
That stems from his work ethic, as Huskies coach Brett Larson called his character “elite.”
“He’s always out shooting pucks after practice,” Larson said. “Just very dedicated to training on and off the ice, whether it be getting his rest or nutrition or any of those things. His commitment level was real high-end to becoming the best player he could on and off the ice.”
Schuldt appeared in one game with the Knights after signing — the team’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Kings — and “acquitted himself real well,” according to general manager Kelly McCrimmon, recording an assist. He became a restricted free agent in the offseason, but now that he has signed his one-way contract (which pays him the same regardless of whether he plays in the NHL or American Hockey League) he can turn his attention to beating out fellow prospects Nicolas Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Jake Bischoff and Dylan Coghlan for a spot with the Knights.
“He’s got tremendous poise,” McCrimmon said. “We have real high hopes for Jimmy right now and as to where he can go to.”
McCrimmon said three players won’t participate in the Knights’ rookie camp because of injuries: center Ben Jones (a 2017 seventh-round pick), left wing Marcus Kallionkieli (a 2019 fifth-round pick) and center Peyton Krebs (a 2019 first-round pick).
Jones and Kallionkieli’s injuries weren’t disclosed, but McCrimmon said Krebs’ left Achilles injury, which he suffered while training in June, is the most serious of the three. The GM also said there’s no timetable for Krebs’ return, but this year’s 17th overall pick will spend a “significant” portion of his rehab in Las Vegas working with the Knights’ training staff.
“(He) certainly looks much better to the naked eye now than when we saw him in development camp (in June),” McCrimmon said. “My understanding is it’s progressing well.”
Jimmy Schuldt file
— Age: 24
— Hometown: Minnetonka, Minn.
— Ht./Wt.: 6-1/205
— Position: Defenseman
— Shoots: Left
— 2018-19 stats (at St. Cloud State): 39 games, 10 goals, 25 assists
— 2018-19 stats (with Golden Knights): One game, one assist