Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt had a goal and an assist in his preseason debut against the Islanders, Saturday. Most notably, Schmidt was aggressive, joining the Caps’ offensive attack whenever he could.
The preseason is a great time for the coaching staff to experiment and try new things – like the team’s decision to shift center Zach Sanford to the wing. So usually it’s not wise to read much into the team’s strategy, especially early in the preseason.
Except in this case where we should totally read into what we’re seeing.
Ahead of the Caps’ game against the Blues, CSN’s Al Koken interviewed Schmidt during warm-ups and asked if we should expect the Minnesota native to jump into the rush even more this season.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Schmidt said. “The thing Todd (Reirden) and I talked about at the beginning of the year was to make sure I’m skating and keeping my feet moving and try to be an extra guy on the attack all season long.”
That’s very intriguing because Schmidt is a player with good offensive instincts who has shown flashes of being able to contribute more on the score sheet than he has so far in his career.
According to Corsica, Schmidt finished the 2015-16 season 18th in the league in scoring chances per 60 among all defensemen at five-on-five (0.47 per 60 minutes). That also put Schmidt first among Caps D.
Schmidt was especially successful during the season while paired with Orlov, posting a 58.6 percent shot attempt percentage at 5v5. Further, Schmidt’s average shooting distance was closer to the net than any other Caps defenseman as well, averaging 45.3 feet.
This supports the claims that Schmidt has unrealized offensive potential and it sounds like the Caps are hoping to tap into that this season. And if that means more smiles from Schmidty, we all win, right?
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