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Get to Know a Golden Knight: Nate Schmidt

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As part of the build-up to the Stanley Cup Final series between the Capitals and the Golden Knights, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important Knights players and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Schmidt

#88 / Defenseman

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 194 | Born: July 16, 1991

Birthplace: St. Cloud, MN | Acquired: Hmm... can’t recall

Assets: Has excellent puck-moving skills and can jump-start the counter-attack effectively from the back end. Is capable of playing on either side of the ice and can log a lot of ice time.

Flaws: Isn’t very physical and somewhat undersized for the National Hockey League game, so he must prove capable of handling bigger forwards consistently at the highest level.

Career Potential: Solid, mobile puck-moving defenseman with a little upside.

(Via The Hockey News)

via HockeyViz

Why You Should Know Who He Is: Schmidt, an undrafted free agent signing back in April of 2013, has emerged as Vegas’s ice time leader among skaters, logging nearly 20 minutes per night in the playoffs (including around two-and-a-half minutes per game on each special teams unit). He was second among Knights defensemen in points in the regular season (36, trailing only Colin Miller’s 41), and is similarly situated in the playoffs (6 points, one behind Shea Theodore. Schmidt is a tremendous puck carrier, so look for him on controlled zone exits (and entries), and he rarely takes penalties, despite his big minutes (just a single minor in 15 playoff games this year). Man, if only the Caps could find more guys like Nate Schmidt.

How the Caps Can Stop Him: Like many blueliners of his ilk, Schmidt isn’t the most physical player, so over the course of a series, getting in on him with an aggressive forecheck may pay dividends. And it will be important for the Caps’ to be as good in the neutral zone as they have been for most of the playoffs, to slow down this speedy and skilled player on this speedy and skilled team. Oh, and avoid staring directly into his smile - that’s how he disarms opponents and sets them up for the kill.