With or Without You: Nate Schmidt Continued Strong Play During Mike Green’s Injury
Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography
Nate Schmidt has been a solid NHL player since making his debut last season. The Caps see 2.8% more of overall shot attempts with Schmidt on the ice than when he’s off the ice, which is fourth best of all Caps players to have played 500+ 5v5 minutes in that time (behind only Dmitry Orlov, Mike Green, and Alex Ovechkin).
Schmidt has benefited from playing 47.5% of his 5v5 minutes with Green, who is a great possession player, as his defensive partner. In the minutes when Schmidt is on the ice with Green, the Caps have seen 53.7% of all shot attempts. In the minutes Schmidt is on the ice without Green, the Cap see 48.3% of all shot attempts.
Is Schmidt actually a below average possession player who Green covers up for?
Over half of Schmidt’s minutes come from last season, when the Caps were a sub-par possession team under Adam Oates. The majority of his minutes away from Green also came under Oates. However, Green’s recent injury gave us a look at whether Schmidt can still be a driver of possession when separated from Green and playing on a competent possession team (unlike the incompetent possession team Schmidt was on last season).
In the seven games Mike Green missed, the Caps saw 4.3% more of total shot attempts with Nate Schmidt on the ice than when he was off the ice. This is first among all Caps defenders during this time and second only to Joel Ward (+12.5%) among all Caps players.
You can argue that Schmidt played minutes that were even more sheltered than normal with Hillen as his partner, but there’s plenty of counter evidence as to why zone starts and quality of competition don’t impact possession numbers as much as we might think.
Nate Schmidt continues to develop into a very effective defenseman. While he certainly benefits from often playing with an elite possession player such as Green, there is reason to believe Schmidt can hold his own with or without Green as his defensive partner.
Kevin from Japers Rink had a good piece on Schmidt yesterday
All stats from War on Ice and Hockey Analysis