Bjugstad and Schmidt (right) bump fists before the 2012 West regional semifinal (Photo credit: Sherri LaRose-Chiglo/St. Paul Pioneer Press)
After the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers were upset by Yale during last spring’s regional semifinal, a few of Minnesota’s star players left the program to pursue professional careers.
Among them were defenseman Nate Schmidt, who signed with the Washington Capitals as an undrafted free agent, and Florida Panthers’ 2010 first-round pick center Nick Bjugstad. Both spent three years in college hockey, and both were all-stars in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Washington Capitals have been terrible defensively this year. There have, however, been a few bright spots. While he hasn’t looked fantastic (who has so far?), rookie Nate Schmidt has held his own after being called up to replace an injured Jack Hillen. Right now, he’s skating big minutes with a guy named Mike Green. The 22-year-old was playing college hockey just seven months ago and has played in fewer than two dozen professional games. And Saturday, Schmidt got the first point of his young NHL career.
On October 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Look at these idiots. (Photo credit: Derek Leung)
Utterly stunning as it may be, the Washington Capitals came into Saturday’s late night bout against Calgary on a three game winning streak after a pair of 4-1 victories and shootout nail biter in Winnipeg. With a newly even record, the Caps looked to put themselves above .500 for the first time this year with a win against the lowly Flames. They didn’t.
Kris Russell scored just over a minute into the game after a horrid opening shift for the Caps. It didn’t get better. Jiri Hudler put the Flames up by two with some net crashing. Jason Chimera got one back for the Caps on a nice backhand shot in front. Mike Cammalleri, though, just continued the bloodletting. Holtby pulled, Holtby mad. In the second, the Caps were better. Aaron Volpatti‘s muffled wrister found the back of the net to put them within one heading into the final frame. That period was stupid. Cammalleri potted another. Curtis Glencross added one more. Flames drop Caps 5-2.
As we said in our story before the game, Nate Schmidt‘s entire family flew to Washington D.C. to see him make his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. Parents Tom and Joanne, as well as his brother Mike, flew from their home in Minnesota. His sister Emily, in medical school in Arizona, got out of a scheduled surgery so she could show her brother her support.
During the game, Comcast SportsNet found Nate’s family behind the Capitals goal. They looked nervous. Mike, Emily, Joanne, and Tom can be seen sitting above.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth
When head coach Adam Oates sent 22-year-old Nate Schmidt down to Hershey during training camp, he told the defenseman to “always be ready” for a call-up.
Tonight, the prospect will make his debut, filling in for an ailing John Erskine. He will become the third rookie to make his NHL debut for the team this season. Schmidt joins Connor Carrick and Michael Latta, who played in the Caps season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 1st.
Michael Latta celebrates a goal. (Photo credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals brought their B-team players to Boston on Monday, but the Boston Bruins brought in their B-team scorekeepers. According to them, the Bruins led shots 38-14. Okay, maybe. But also according to them, the Caps’ third-period goal was scored by Martin Erat and assisted by Nate Schmidt and Mikhail Grabovski.
No. It was Michael Latta‘s. Really. Let’s take a look.
Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey during Caps Development Camp in July. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
[Editor's Note: Fedor has reported on Washington Capitals prospects for RMNB for the last three years. This year we're proud to introduce his prospect rankings. The rankings will be updated three times during the season-- with the goal of updating you on how prospects are or not progressing. The first edition of the rankings come on the second day of Rookie Camp, as Caps prospects jockey for position within the organization.]
The Washington Capitals have re-stocked their prospect pipeline over the past two NHL drafts, giving fans a wealth of new players to get excited about in addition to a few solid free-agent prospects signings.
The 2012 Draft is turning out be a sterling spot on George McPhee’s resume. After picking Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in the first round, GMGM made a few strong picks in the latter rounds with Thomas DiPauli, Connor Carrick, Riley Barber, and Christian Djoos– all of whom have been invited to their junior national team camps and left good impressions.
Depth on defense is an area of strength for this crop of talent, with more than a few prospects ready to compete for roster spots as soon as they open.
Below, check out inaugural edition of the RMNB prospect rankings.
“Hey, GoPro,” Tom Wilson joked to Washington Capitals prospect Nate Schmidt during a Development Camp practice last week. “Will you settle down? You look like an iRobot out here.”
Schmidt, the University of Minnesota defenseman who signed a two-year deal with the Caps mid-way through last season, stood out on the ice. A tiny GoPro camera was affixed to the top of his helmet. Monumental Network had approached the defenseman earlier in the week asking him to try out the camera to give fans a creative and inside look into drills. Lucky for us, he agreed.
The video is fascinating. It shows the speed of the game and illustrates in vivid detail the tiny decisions each player makes and how they affect the game.
The Capitals have signed Nate Schmidt,a 6-foot, 194-pound, lefty to a two-year entry-level contract, kicking in this season. The 21-year-old from St. Cloud spent three years with the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers, where late-round Caps draft pick Travis Boyd also played. Over the last two seasons, Schmidt has been nearly a point-per-game player. Schmidt attended Capitals Development Camp last year.
This season, Schmidt ranked third in points among NCAA defensemen and first in the WCHA. He was named to the All-WCHA first team and considered the top free agent on a Gophers team composed mostly of already drafted NHL prospects.