The 2017-18 NHL regular season happened to be career years for several Vegas players. Obviously, William Karlsson stole that category and flipped it through his legs. For other players, statistics didn’t show their true success. For the Golden Knights team, that player is Nate Schmidt.
“You go do what you can on your shift, and you rely on the next guy to go do his job on his shift, and hopefully that wear and tear will eventually push the opponent into making a play they don’t want to make.” – Nate Schmidt
What We Know About Nate Schmidt
- Signed by George McPhee as an undrafted free agent in 2013
- Played NCAA hockey with Minnesota Golden Gophers
- UMN college roommates with Erik Haula
- Left-handed defenseman
- VGK Stats: Led team Average Time On Ice (22:17), second in Defensive Point Shares (5.0), third in Blocks (121), first in postseason ATOI (24:25), second in postseason +/- (+7)
- Career Highs: Games (76), Goals (5), Points (31), Shots (103), Time On Ice (22:14), Blocks (121), Takeaways (57)
- Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1st, 2019
Heading into training camp last summer, no one knew what to expect from Schmidt. He was a 26-year-old part-time NHL defenseman, averaging 15:29 of ice time. His previous team, Washington, healthy-scratched the defenseman twice during the 2016-17 postseason. That negative experience seemed to have opened Schmidt’s eyes going forward. Being benched in DC motivated #88 enough to become the most used defenseman in Vegas.
“Schmidty’s been a great defender for us and he’s done a real good job. He’s taking pride in playing good solid defensive hockey and he plays a real good game. So we’re happy with it.” – Gerard Gallant, VGK Head Coach
What We May Not Know About Schmidt
- Born July, 16th 1991 in St. Cloud, MN
- Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) First Team Honors 2012-13, Second Team Honors 2011-12
- NCAA Frozen Four Appearances (2): 2012, 2013
- The movie Catch Me If You Can was filmed at Schmidt’s Catholic high school, St. Cloud Cathedral
- He likes to reference The Mighty Ducks
“It was kind of a Luis Mendoza moment. I was going too fast for my own good. You have to slam on the breaks or else.” – Nate Schmidt on his last second game-tying goal in Arizona, 10/07/17
By mid-season, coach Gerard Gallant regularly relied on Schmidt in tight game situations. The former Golden Gopher’s nightly assignments were to cover the NHL’s best, and he relished the challenge. Covering and neutralizing stars like Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar, and Auston Matthews was a normal night on the ice for Schmidt.
“Once our crowd gets into it and we score right away, it’s really hard for other teams to get back in. It’s kind of like a hamster wheel, it’s hard to stop it once it starts rolling.” – Nate Schmidt
For the Golden Knights to repeat their success, they’ll need the same strong effort by Schmidt. He comes into the 2018-19 season as the most reliable defenseman on the team, undoubtedly leading the team in ice time. Expect another strong campaign as it’s a contract year for Schmidt. It won’t be a shock if the Golden Knights front office offer an extension to Schmidt by December. Fans hope to watch #88 in gold for many, many years.
Last season, Attorney Adam Kutner gave away tickets to the Vegas Golden Knights home games, along with Zamboni rides during the intermissions. As an avid hockey fan, Adam Kutner looks to keep the VGK spirit alive by providing weekly news updates about the team’s offseason. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news on our beloved Golden Knights.
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