Capitals' final report cards: Nate Schmidt

Capitals' final report cards: Nate Schmidt
May 26, 2014, 2:30 pm
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CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Nate Schmidt

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Age: 22 [turns 23 July 16]

Ht/Wt: 6-0, 194

Games: 29

Goals: 2

Assists: 4

Points: 6

Penalty minutes: 6

Plus-Minus: Plus-4

Average Ice Time: 18:41

Contract Status: Due to become Restricted Free Agent on July 1. Capitals can retain his rights with minimum qualifying offer of $874,125. Completed 2-year, $2.7 million entry-level contract with $925,000 cap hit.

Strengths: Signed as a free agent on April 23, 2013, Schmidt was projected as a call-up defenseman from the AHL Hershey Bears and that’s exactly what he was for the Caps this season, playing in 29 games. He made his season debut in the fifth game of the season and played in 28 straight games. The Caps were an impressive 16-9-3 in those games but it didn’t keep them from sending him back to Hershey on Dec. 15. An excellent skater with good first-pass skills, Schmidt returned for just one more game for the Capitals in mid January.

Weaknesses: Schmidt looks like he can handle the pace of the NHL game but there were times he was physically beaten off the puck by bigger, stronger forwards and that sometimes led to hesitation in his game. For those reasons Schmidt may never be much of a penalty killer in the NHL but he has the potential to be a solid offensive defenseman who can contribute on the power play.

RELATED: [Plenty of questions for Capitals' next head coach]

Memorable Moment: On Dec. 7, in his 25th NHL game, Schmidt ripped a cross-ice pass from Marty Erat past Nashville goaltender Marek Mazanec for his first NHL goal. He was mobbed by his teammates, including defense partner John Carlson, who leaped into Schmidt’s arms. “I was ecstatic,” Schmidt said. “When I saw [Carlson] coming I almost tried to go against the boards. I felt like he was going to hit me like the other team would, but it was great. The guys have been great.”

Quotable: “That could hurt the wallet a little bit.  I’m hoping I’m here to help pay for that. That would be a lot to put on Willy.” – Schmidt on wanting to remain on the Capitals roster long enough to help Tom Wilson pay for the annual rookie dinner.

2014-15 Expectations: Schmidt’s future in Washington lies with the Caps’ new general manager. Look for the Caps to give him a qualifying offer to retain his rights and for Schmidt to get a long look at training camp as he battles John Erskine and Jack Hillen for ice time as a left-handed, puck-moving defenseman on the third unit.