Nate Schmidt was signed by the Capitals as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota. In 96 games with the Golden Gophers, Schmidt totaled 74 points (12 goals, 62 assists). A solid two-way defenseman who excels in the defensive part of the game, Schmidt is primed for a much larger role with the Capitals with the departure of longtime defenseman Mike Green in free agency .
At six-feet tall and 195 pounds, Schmidt isn’t the most intimidating blueliner. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. Perhaps the quickest player after Jason Chimera on the roster at the beginning of the 2014-15 season; Schmidt is able to pick up speed in a matter of seconds. His ability to pivot when the opposition has possession of the puck is what earned him the chance to play a career-high 39 games in a Washington sweater this season. Having signed a two-year extension last week, Schmidt is “ready to deliver”, as he told Chuck Gormley, the Capitals insider for CSNWashington.com.
Schmidt is already a talented young defenseman who, with practice, could become a better puck-mover. For this to happen, Schmidt will need to shoot the puck more often, hang onto the puck longer when exiting his own end, and continue to have confidence in his abilities. His defensive game is already brilliant and adding that second-dimension to his play would not only make him a threat at both ends of the ice, but would further improve the Caps’ already reliable defense corps.
Known for his always-present grin, Schmidty is a player that enjoys his job, no matter how big of a role he has. While some players care more about the $$$, Schmidt is just happy to get the opportunity to be an everyday NHL player. His determination, dedication, and enthusiastic approach to life in general is what propelled the 23-year old from St. Cloud, Minnesota from an undrafted free agent to an almost-guaranteed spot on the Capitals’ third defense-pairing. If Nate can build upon his strengths, his future could be as bright as the smile that is ever-present on his face.