Schmidt, 25, is one of the smoothest-skating defensemen in the NHL, but he was stuck behind a plethora of proven rearguards in Washington, averaging just 15:29 minutes per game this past season.
He recorded just 17 points in 60 games, but in what's expected to be a top-four role with power-play time in Vegas, he'll have a chance to produce more offensively. He posted an impressive Corsi For percentage of 53.6 this past season, largely due to his ability to skate the puck out of his own zone. He's the definition of a puck-moving defenseman.
Schmidt wasn't necessarily the obvious choice, though. Vegas could have selected goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who has a .923 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against average in 66 career games with the Caps. Washington would have no doubt preferred that outcome, as backup goaltenders are easily replaceable - especially when Braden Holtby starts 60-plus games - while losing Schmidt is a crushing blow.
The Capitals aren't expected to re-sign pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, so Schmidt likely would have been in line for an expanded role had Vegas passed on him.