Photo: Chris Gordon
On October 12, 2013, Nate Schmidt made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. A little more than two years later, Schmidt has played 83 NHL games. His journey to the NHL has been unsteady with his coaches trying to figure out whether he’s an AHL prospect, a healthy scratch candidate, or typical third pairing defensemen. But Schmidt is none of those. In fact, he may be one of the better defensemen in the NHL. And with a lower body injury sidelining top pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik, Schmidt finally has a chance to prove it.
“I don’t think we’re seeing anything different,” head coach Barry Trotz told me of Schmidt’s play. “Nate, we felt, we had the most trust in at this point that we moved him up, gave him the opportunity. The things that he does well is skate. He’s skating and getting up ice, getting back on the breakouts, hard on the forecheck, and he defends well because of his mobility and stick. He’s a very effective player for us.”