2008-09: Nate Schmidt was one of the top defensemen in Minnesota high school hockey as a junior for Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. In 25 games he scored 21 goals with 24 assists and had 30 penalty minutes. Schmidt committed to playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota in 2010-11.
2009-10: Schmidt chose to play junior hockey rather than returning for his senior season at Cathedral. He was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for Fargo in his first USHL season. He scored 14 goals with 23 assists in 57 regular season games and was -7 with 81 penalty minutes. The Force finished second in the West Conference and reached the Clark Cup finals against Green Bay. Schmidt had 6 assists in 13 playoff games and was -8 with 2 penalty minutes.
2010-11: Schmidt skated in 13 games for Minnesota as a freshman — spending time playing left wing as well as his regular defense spot. He had 1 assist and was an even plus/minus with 6 penalty minutes. The Gophers struggled to stay above .500 much of the season, finishing fifth in the WCHA, and were swept by Alaska-Anchorage in a first round playoff series.
2011-12: Schmidt had a breakout sophomore season as part of a young defense corps that played a key role in Minnesota’s resurgence. The fourth-leading scorer for the Gophers (and leader amongst defensemen), he scored 3 goals with a team-leading 38 assists and was +24 with 14 penalty minutes in 43 games. Minnesota finished first in the WCHA and after an upset loss to North Dakota in the WCHA semifinals defeated the Fighting Sioux the following weekend in the NCAA West Regional Final to earn a spot in the Frozen Four. The Gophers lost to eventual national champion Boston College, 6-1, in the semifinals.
2012-13: Schmidt signed a two-year entry-level contract with Washington in April 2013 and made his pro debut with Capitals AHL affiliate Hershey following his junior season at Minnesota. In eight regular season games with Hershey he scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was -4 with 2 penalty minutes. The Bears finished fourth in the East Division and lost to Atlantic Division champion Providence in a first round playoff series. Schmidt had 2 assists and was +1 in five playoff games. He was the top offensive defensemen for Minnesota in his final season, scoring 9 goals with 23 assists in 40 games, and was +16 with 16 penalty minutes. Minnesota finished tied for first with St. Cloud State in the WCHA regular season. The Gophers season came to a disappointing end as Minnesota lost to Colorado College, 2-0, in the WCHA semifinals and fell to national champion Yale, 3-2 in overtime in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.
2013-14: Schmidt made his NHL debut for the Capitals in an October 12th game against Colorado — splitting the season between Washington and AHL affiliate Hershey. He scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was +4 with 6 penalty minutes in 29 NHL games with the Capitals. In 38 AHL games for the Bears he scored 2 goals with 11 assists and was -5 with 12 penalty minutes. Hershey finished fourth in the East Division, two points behind Norfolk for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Schmidt was tendered a qualifying offer by Washington and signed a one-year contract with the Capitals as a restricted free agent in July 2014.
Schmidt is a skating defenseman with a big shot who is very smooth and can quickly get to top speed. He transitions from the defensive end to the offensive end quickly. While his offensive tools are his calling card he is a competent defensive player. His gap control and containment are sound and he will play the body. Schmidt is confident with the puck and his invigorating offensive style make him an intriguing all around prospect.
Schmidt made the Capitals out of training camp to start the 2014-15 season and was with Washington for most of the first half before being assigned to AHL affiliate Hershey in January 2014. Known for his offensive ability coming out of college, Schmidt had just three assists in 33 games for the Capitals and has similarly been overshadowed by players like Connor Carrick and Tomas Kundratek with the Bears. Schmidt's stick handling an shooting skill, as well as his ability to read the rush, suggest he has the talent to succeed at the NHL level. With several talented defensemen in the Washington pipeline, his ability to produce points from the blueline and defend more consistently will likely determine his future with the organization. Long-term he projects as a puck-moving defenseman and power play specialist at the NHL level. It is equally possible that his career hits its peak at the AHL level or he receives a lucrative offer from a club in Europe.