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Tag: Nate Schmidt (Page 1 of 4)

Nate’s Back, But Who Should He Play With?

Welcome back Nate! Now, save the season. No pressure bud. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nate’s back! But now he needs a partner, and finding the right option not only for Schmidt, but also for the rest of the blueline is easier said than done for the Golden Knights.

Last year eventual Jack Adams winner Gerard Gallant paired Schmidt with either Luca Sbisa or Brayden McNabb for a majority of the season. As the season went on Schmidt played most of his time on the top pair with McNabb. Now, as Schmidt is set to return the question is, should he go back with McNabb or is there a better option?

If the Schmidt/McNabb pair is indeed once again reunited, not much else will change in the lineup. Colin Miller will slide down to play with Nick Holden and Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland will remain together.

McNabb-Schmidt
Theodore-Engelland
Holden-Miller

However, an argument can be made that Miller and McNabb have been the best and most consistent pair, and maybe they shouldn’t be split up. Thus Schmidt would have to find a new home. Since Nate plays on the right side, there are really only two options for who he can play with, Theodore or Holden.

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McPhee On Injuries: “We Aren’t Deep Enough Yet To Not Have Everybody In”

Gerard Gallant confirmed this morning Haula is considered “month-to-month.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Injuries are a major part of hockey. Every team goes through them at various times and for various stretches of the season. For the Golden Knights, it’s come early and it’s come in the form of high-end forwards.

Alex Tuch missed the first eight games of the year and Max Pacioretty missed four games at the end of October. Both Pacioretty and Tuch have returned to the lineup, but the two guys they’ve played with on the Vegas second line haven’t been as fortunate. Paul Stastny went out in Game 3 and isn’t expected to return until late December at the earliest, and Erik Haula appears to be out for at least the balance of the calendar year.

Then there’s the suspension which has kept Nate Schmidt out for the first 20 games of the season. All in all, the Golden Knights have yet to play a game with anything resembling a full lineup, and the GM is frustrated.

I’d like to get healthy, for one game. just to see what we are. We just haven’t been. You know we rebuilt our second line and I think they’ve played two and half games together. Stastny’s been out most of the year, Pacioretty was out, Haula’s out, Tuch’s been out. We aren’t deep enough yet to not have everybody in. -George McPhee on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto

All in all, they’ve missed 39 games due to injury and 18 going on 20 due to suspension.

Nate Schmidt – 18 missed (100%)
Paul Stastny – 15 missed (83%)
Alex Tuch – 8 missed (44.%)
Deryk Engelland – 5 missed (28%)
Max Pacioretty – 4 missed (22%)
Erik Haula – 3 missed (17%)
Cody Eakin – 4 missed (22%)
Ryan Carpenter – 1 missed (6%)

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Nate Schmidt Speaks About Suspension After Returning To Practice In Ottawa

On September 2nd the NHL informed the world that Nate Schmidt had been suspended for 20 games for violating the league’s Performance Enhancing Substance Program. On that day, Schmidt, his agent, and the Golden Knights organization released strongly worded statements claiming his innocence.

Since then, he skated with the Golden Knights throughout all of training camp, then went to Viena, Austria to practice with a team there while being suspended, and now he’s back with the Golden Knights awaiting the final five games of his suspension to elapse.

“When you can look in the mirror and know you didn’t do something, that’s all that matters.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the first time since the suspension, Schmidt was made available to the media. This occurred in the visitor’s locker room at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa yesterday. (Stick tap to David Schoen of the Review-Journal for posting the video which is embedded below.)

Schmidt’s same jovial personality came through, as it always does, but two things were clear in hearing and watching him speak. First, he still firmly believes he did not do anything wrong. Second, it pains him deeply that his career will forever be linked to this suspension.

Right after it happened I called George and said, it’s not the games or the money, it’s my reputation. I couldn’t care less about the money I’m giving up and it sucks to miss the games but really it’s about your character being attacked. But the outpouring of support from guys on this team, and guys in the league, and friends and family, and even guys from other sports, it was incredible. It made you know at the end of the day that when you look in the mirror and you know you didn’t do something that that’s the only thing that mattered to me. I know I can say that I didn’t do anything intentionally or ever tried to do anything, that’s not me. When you can look in the mirror and know you didn’t do something, that’s all that matters. -Nate Schmidt

Schmidt does understand however that most people may not believe him. He says he’s can’t let that effect him though.

The internal support and my own personal belief in knowing (I didn’t do anything wrong) is enough for me. -Schmidt

Maybe the most interesting piece of information that came from Schmidt’s first interview since the suspension was his answer to the question, “do you know where the substance came from?”

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NATE SCHMIDT (D) SIGNS 6 YEAR EXTENSION AT $5.95M AAV

Golden Knights Defensemen Power Rankings

Brannstrom is on his way to forcing McPhee and Gallant into keeping him around. (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

We are now over a week into training camp and have seen a pair of preseason games in which 32 different skaters have taken the ice for the Golden Knights. The impending suspension of Nate Schmidt and the possibility of Shea Theodore missing games with the contract negotiations has the blue line wide open heading into October 4th.

I like carrying eight defensemen and we’ve done it because some of the young guys weren’t really ready to be called up, so we wanted to carry eight. We’re carrying eight again next year. The good news is, we’ve got guys that can be called up this year. -George McPhee

Of course, there are still nearly three weeks of practice and six preseason games to sort it all out, but let’s take a look at how we think it shakes out as we speak.

This is a ranking of each defenseman in the Golden Knights system by the current level of play. This does not take into account things like suspension, holdout, waiver exempt status, contract, or likelihood to make the roster. These are my rankings, not necessarily how I believe the team would rank the players. (Nonetheless, admittedly, a lot of my beliefs come from decisions made by the front office and coaching staff on players.)

1) Nate Schmidt

Nate is in a class of his own on the Golden Knights blue line. He’s the only player currently even close to being considered a 1A defenseman, and even that can be debated either way. However, with the suspension, he’s unavailable for 20 games, so he won’t be an option for the Golden Knights come October 4th.

2) Brayden McNabb

Looking back on the contract, McNabb was an absolute steal for George McPhee. With Schmidt’s absence, McNabb will step into the role as the Golden Knights top defenseman. He’ll be relied upon to stop the opposing teams’ best players night in and night out for the first month and a half and will be the key penalty-killing defenseman as well. McNabb is much maligned at times, but the guy is a legit high-end shutdown defenseman and when paired with the right player, he and his partner can shine.

3) Colin Miller

Yes, Miller is rated above Theodore, and not because Theodore is not in camp, but because Miller is the more complete player at this moment. Give it a few years and Theodore will probably soar past him, but right now Miller has become acceptable (and probably even more than that) in his own end and he’s an absolute weapon in the offensive zone. He boasts the hardest shot on the team and he’s bound to have a mega offensive season playing a much more prominent role than a year ago.

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McPhee Walks Back Support Of Schmidt In Clearing Team’s Involvement With Illegal Substance

For the first time since the 20 game suspension of Nate Schmidt was handed down by the league, GM George McPhee met with the media to answer questions. He opened with a quick statement explaining that he is unable to talk about the specifics of the situation but, admittedly against his better judgment (“I probably shouldn’t even talk about this”), did to go into a bit of detail about how the Golden Knights handle supplements with their players.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Prior to this press conference, based solely on the statement the team released following the NHL’s announcement, the Golden Knights seemed to be strongly backing Schmidt, however, McPhee’s statements today did a lot to separate that support from any accusations of wrongdoing by the team in this situation.

The organization isn’t responsible for (pause)… It didn’t come from us. Everything we have, any supplements, any vitamins are all NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved, we know where our food comes from. So there are no issues with respect to the club. So now you are going to say the onus is on him but I can tell you in this process a lot of you can go for a protein shake at a health food store around here and test positive tomorrow. -McPhee

This is a pretty stark contrast to Schmidt’s statement six days ago.

The fact that I’m issuing this statement is surreal to me as I have only used supplements provided by my NHL team and I have always been extremely careful about what I put into my body. -Nate Schmidt

McPhee was pressed further on the discrepancy.

With what we supply in terms of food and supplements and vitamins and in terms of the way we test our players, and I’m certainly not going to give away all the ammunition of how we do things for other clubs, but we do a lot of testing and we do defensible documentation and we are in a good place with that. -McPhee

McPhee also offered a comment about what he told other players on the team, furthering his stance that the substance which caused Schmidt to test positive did not come from the Golden Knights.

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Schmidt’s Suspension Huge Here; Elsewhere? Not So Much

Have a feeling this picture is going to see some major use until November 18th. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was supposed to be an easy assignment. Go through the newswire, finding out what other NHL cities were saying about Nate Schmidt’s 20 game suspension. It’s big news to Golden Knights fans, and the expectation was there would be hot takes coming from everywhere else as well? After all, it’s the first PED suspension since 2016, and it’s a case that pushes the league’s banned substance policy to the edge.

Three and a half hours of searching harder than 11-year-old me searched for plastic eggs with nickels in them on Easter, I only found four outlets discussing Schmidt’s suspension or the league’s substance policy.

What stood out to me was Nate Schmidt said he only used supplements supplied by the team. The majority of the players do take some sort of supplement. Their diets are so sophisticated and the training is so sophisticated. – TSN’s Dave Poulin

The former NHL center was stunned to find out the tainted supplements Schmidt took came from the team. Suggesting any blame shouldn’t be placed on the player.

I see him (Schmidt) as somebody with a great deal of character. And as somebody that’ll bounce back from that. -Eric Duhatschek, The Athletic

While I could keep going, I simply can’t bury the lead any further. The real story is the lack of coverage. Schmidt’s suspension is a troubling issue for the Golden Knights and the NHL. The team and the player adamantly denied any knowledge of performance-enhancing supplements but the league maintained its zero policy stance. No matter how little the trace was, it seems to me, there is real disconnect with the league.

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Where Does The Blue Line Stand Now With Schmidt Out Of The Picture?

It’s the obvious question to ask following the stunning news of Nate Schmidt’s 20 game suspension, what now? It gets even worse when you consider the possibility of Shea Theodore missing games, but for the purpose of this article (and because this isn’t the time of year for doom and gloom), we’re going to assume Theodore is on the ice on October 4th.

According to offseason quotes by George McPhee, the Golden Knights are expected to keep eight defensemen on the roster out of training camp. With Schmidt out, the roster has a total of 15 available players to fill those eight spots. Five names can probably be safely cast aside as longshots to make the roster (Zac Leslie, Dylan Coghlan, Jimmy Oligny, Jake Bischoff, and Nic Hague) leaving 10 players to fill the eight places.

Don’t be surprised if Gallant leans heavily on Engelland with Schmidt out. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It really comes down to Brad Hunt, Jon Merrill, Griffin Reinhart, Zach Whitecloud, and Erik Brannstrom fighting for three spots and one starting role. The odds on favorites are Hunt and Merrill with them splitting time as the six starter spot to go along with Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Shea Theodore, and Nick Holden.

Engelland and Miller are the only two right-handed defensemen of the group of five highly likely to crack the starting lineup, but Holden has played most of his career on the right side. Thus, in theory, there are the beginnings of each of the three pairs.

That leaves Theodore, McNabb, and Hunt/Merrill as each’s partner. Last year Jack Adams winner Gerard Gallant used both Theodore and McNabb with Engelland quite a bit. Assuming he returns to those familiar pairings, we’re left with four potential sets of pairings.

Option A
McNabb-Engelland
Theodore-Holden
Merrill/Hunt-Miller

Option B
McNabb-Engelland
Theodore-Miller
Merrill/Hunt-Holden

Option C
Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill/Hunt-Holden

Option D
Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Holden
Merrill/Hunt-Miller

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Statistical Look At The Impact Of Losing Nate Schmidt For 20 Games

Jon Merrill isn’t Nate Schmidt, but as a replacement, he’ll be just fine. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The famous saying in sports when a team experiences something like a long-term injury or a suspension is “next man up.” Just wait, that term is going to be thrown around City National Arena more than “chip on our shoulder” was last year.

Sometimes the “next man” turns out to be a superstar like Lou Gehrig or Kurt Warner, other times it doesn’t work out so well. Most of the time though it falls somewhere in between, where the replacement isn’t as good as the missing player, but not a complete disaster. That’s where we expect the Golden Knights to land with the loss of Schmidt.

First of all, hockey is unlike many other sports where the loss of a player results in a direct replacement. Aside from goalies, a loss of a skater in hockey means a shift in the depth chart. In this case, the replacement of Jon Merrill, Brad Hunt, Griffin Reinhart, Zach Whitecloud, or Erik Brannstrom will not be expected to step in and have the same role and responsibilities as Schmidt. Instead, more than likely Deryk Engelland or Nick Holden will find themselves filling those shoes. So rather than replacing Schmidt with Merrill, it’s like replacing Schmidt with Engelland AND Engelland with McNabb AND McNabb with Theodore AND Theodore with Holden AND Holden with Miller AND Miller with Merrill.

Nonetheless, someone does have to step into the lineup that otherwise would have been in the press box watching the game.

To give a statistical look at what the Golden Knights look like without Schmidt, we start with the expected values Schmidt would have brought to the team both offensively and defensively based on last season’s stats.

Schmidt averaged 22:14 while scoring five goals and tallying 31 assists in 76 total games. He had 57 giveaways and 57 takeaways and registered 103 shots. His point shares were 2.2 offensively, 4.8 defensively, totaling 7.0.

He played 76 games, so we first multiply all the numbers (except TOI) by 1.079 to calculate them to an 82 game total. Then, we’ve divide by 4.1 (or divide by 82 then multiply by 20) to calculate his stats over the course of the 20 games he’ll miss. Here’s what we get.

 Per GameOver 20 Games
Goals0.061.3
Assists0.48.2
Shots1.427.1
Takeaways0.815.0
Giveaways0.815.0
OPS>0.020.6
DPS0.061.3
Point Shares0.091.8

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Nate Schmidt Suspended For 20 Games For Violating Performance Enhancing Substance Program

Yikes. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL announced this morning that Golden Knights top defenseman Nate Schmidt has been suspended for the first 20 games of the regular season for violating the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Per NHL rules, Schmidt will also be forced to miss all eight of the Golden Knights preseason games. He is however permitted to participate in training camp activities with the team.

The Golden Knights wasted no time strongly condemning the league for a suspension they believe is unwarranted. This statement was released just one minute after the league announced the suspension.

We were notified that the NHL has suspended Nate Schmidt for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and are committed to its success, we strongly disagree with the suspension. We firmly believe that the presence of a trace of the banned substance was accidental and unintentional. Based on our conversations with Nate, analysis from independent medical experts and sworn testimony from the parties involved, we believe it is clear Nate was not able to reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body. Nate is an honest person with high moral character and great integrity. We will stand by him and support him during this time. -Golden Knights Official Statement

Schmidt released a statement of his own as well via the NHLPA website. In it, he explains that he has already appealed the suspension.

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