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#88 In Your Program, #1 In Your Defensive Pairings

I don’t know how to put this, but… I’m kind of a big deal. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are many storylines this season, but one in particular is overlooked only because of his steady play. Golden Knights like Colin Miller, William Karlsson, William Carrier and others are on pace for career seasons. Heck, even Tomas Nosek has already doubled his career total in goals. Statistical career-paces are nice, but Nate Schmidt transforming into a trusted, top-pairing defenseman is the bigger story.

Heading into this season, Schmidt was stuck on bottom-pair for the Washington Capitals, which is why he was available to the Golden Knights. His scouting report highlighted his strong skating and puck moving ability. Something Vegas fans now get to watch 23 minutes a game.

2017 Averages: 29 Shifts, 22:31 ATOI
2016 Averages: 17 Shifts, 15:29 ATOI
2015 Averages: 22 Shifts, 18:04 ATOI
2014 Averages: 16 Shifts, 13:53 ATOI

I openly admit, I’m a sucker for shift statistics and time on ice. TOI numbers indicate the trust a coach will have in an individual player. After 15 games in the books, it’s clear Gerard Gallant heavily relies on Schmidt’s consistency. Due to his usage increase, #88 has turned into a top defenseman for the Golden Knights. Here are Schmidt’s game logs for this season.

Game 1 @ Dallas: 20 Shifts, 0:47 Shift times, 15:58 TOI, +1 +/-, 6:35 PPTOI, 0:00 SHTOI, 9:23 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 2 @ Arizona: 29 Shifts, 0:52 Shift times, 25:18 TOI, 0 +/-, 3:24 PPTOI, 1:53 SHTOI, 20:01 EVEN TOI, 7 Shot Attempts, 5 Blocked Shots

Game 3 vs. Arizona: 25 Shifts, 0:50 Shift times, 21:06 TOI, +1 +/-, *2:49 PPTOI, 1:08 SHTOI, 17:09 EVEN TOI, 6 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 4 vs. Detroit: 26 Shifts, 0:49 Shift times, 21:31 TOI, 0 +/-, 1:51 PPTOI, 0:00 SHTOI, 19:40 EVEN TOI, 4 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 5 vs. Boston: 27 Shifts, 0:51 Shift times, 22:39 TOI, 0 +/-, 4:21 PPTOI, 0:23 SHTOI, 17:55 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, 3 Blocked Shots

Game 6 vs. Buffalo: 27 Shifts, 0:46 Shift times, 21:06 TOI, +1 +/-, 4:07 PPTOI, 4:08 SHTOI, 12:51 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 7 vs. St. Louis: 33 Shifts, 0:42 Shift times, 23:17 TOI, 0 +/-, 2:01 PPTOI, 3:32 SHTOI, 17:44 EVEN TOI, 4 Shot Attempts, 2 Blocked Shots

Game 8 vs. Chicago: 30 Shifts, 0:46 Shift times, *23:07 TOI, 0 +/-, 4:01 PPTOI, 3:48 SHTOI, 15:18 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, 2 Blocked Shots

Game 9 vs. Colorado: 21 Shifts, :53 Shift times, 18:38 TOI, +1 +/-, 2:14 PPTOI, 2:49 SHTOI, 13:35 EVEN TOI, 3 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 10 @ NYI: 26 Shifts, 0:51 Shift times, 22:08 TOI, +/-, 2:58 PPTOI, 4:24 SHTOI, 14:46 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, Blocked Shots

Game 11 @ NYR: 31 Shifts, 0:48 Shift times, 25:04 TOI, -1 +/-, 2:33 PPTOI, 2:57 SHTOI, 19:34 EVEN TOI, 2 Shot Attempts, 2 Blocked Shots

Game 12 @ Boston: 28 Shifts, 0:50 Shift times, 23:21 TOI, +1 +/-, 2:02 PPTOI, :34 SHTOI, 20:45 EVEN TOI, 3 Shot Attempts, 1 Blocked Shots

Game 13 @ Ottawa: 26 Shifts, 0:51 Shift times, 22:23 TOI, +1 +/-, 3:37 PPTOI, 1:43 SHTOI, 17:03 EVEN TOI, 4 Shot Attempts, 2 Blocked Shots

Game 14 @ Toronto: 35 Shifts, 0:46 Shift times, 27:11 TOI, -1 +/-, 2:46 PPTOI, 2:54 SHTOI, 21:31 EVEN TOI, 3 Shot Attempts, 4 Blocked Shots

Game 15 @ Montreal: 28 Shifts, 0:53 Shift times, 24:47 TOI, -1 +/-, 2:19 PPTOI, 2:00 SHTOI, 20:28 EVEN TOI, 4 Shot Attempts, 2 Blocked Shots

Schmidt logged heavy minutes on the road trip, and was involved in all aspects of the game. He averaged nearly the same amount of power play and short handed shifts. The defenseman lead Vegas in Shifts and TOI in five of the past six games. Schmidt also lead the team eleven times in reliability stats. To be fair, the progression began with the opportunity he has in Vegas, the one thing Schmidt never got in Washington.

Last five games in Washington

5/01/17 Washington @ Pittsburgh: 24 Shifts, 17:42 TOI
5/03/17 Washington @ Pittsburgh: 21 Shifts, 14:19 TOI
5/06/17 Washington vs. Pittsburgh: 19 Shifts, 16:47 TOI
5/08/17 Washington @ Pittsburgh: 16 Shifts, 11:20 TOI
5/10/17 Washington vs. Pittsburgh: 19 Shifts, 13:10 TOI

People know me. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Schmidt played in just 11 of 13 postseason games for the Capitals last season with his ice time decreasing as the Caps got deeper. Now the situation is different.

His six-month progression from bottom line defenseman in Washington to the top Vegas pairing is impressive. If Gallant strongly relies on him after 15 games, just imagine what Schmidt’s TOI numbers will look like when Vegas plays its first postseason series. At this pace, in two years he’ll be asking for Doughty money.

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1 Comment

  1. Vgk4life

    Schmidt continues to work hard night in night out and rarely if ever stuffs a shift. His positioning is well earned and after meeting him briefly at the trunk or treat event where he was shaking hands and making small talk with the families and kids, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Keep up the good work Nathan, we appreciate your efforts!

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