The day after an over-aggressive gaffe by Brooks Orpik led to an early Dallas Stars goal, Barry Trotz revealed that talented, puck-moving defenseman Nate Schmidt might be getting back into the lineup soon.
It’s not what you think.
Tuesday morning, the Capitals demoted forward Paul Carey back to the Hershey Bears ahead of the big-league team’s three-game West Coast road trip. Last night, Carey was a healthy scratch along with Taylor Chorney and Schmidt.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 7, 2017
Carey’s demotion was a surprise because the Capitals are now without an extra forward. The team only has two more recalls left for the rest of the season, though an emergency recall wouldn’t count towards that total.
During his daily press conference with reporters, Trotz explained that GM Brian MacLellan had to make the move due to a “salary cap issue” and that the team had a creative solution if one of the team’s offensive players got hurt.
Trotz said Paul Carey going down was a "salary cap issue." Schmidt could be extra forward if needed.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) March 7, 2017
The Capitals would play Schmidt as a forward.
Several times this season, the speedy defenseman has switched positions at practice. The first time Trotz tried this solution was November 21st. Schmidt skated on a line with Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson, who are now being utilized by Trotz as the team’s shutdown forwards.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 21, 2016
Despite being one of the team’s best performing defensemen this season, Schmidt was the odd man out after the Capitals traded for Kevin Shattenkirk. Overall this season, Schmidt ranks third among regular Caps defensemen with a 54.77 shot attempt percentage, trailing only Dmitry Orlov (54.82) and Matt Niskanen (55.76). Veteran Brooks Orpik ranks fourth on the list (53.68) while Karl Alzner (who’s struggled mightily this season) brings up the rear (48.68).
Schmidt’s emerging play this season helped push Brooks Orpik to one of his best seasons as a pro. In December, the Orpik/Schmidt pairing was number one among all defensive pairings in shot attempt percentage, while Orpik’s possession numbers have lagged with Taylor Chorney and others.
Now, Schmidt’s only avenue back into the lineup is via an injury.
Headline photo: Rob Carr
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