Great teammate who always battles on the ice: Nate Schmidt Jets Nation year in review

Photo credit:© Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Up next on the Jets Nation year in review series is Nate Schmidt. After taking a look at Morgan Barron this afternoon, it’s time to look at the left-handed defenceman Nate Schmidt. A reminder, tomorrow will be the final two articles for this series, one on David Gustafsson and then a final one covering other players who played some games on the Winnipeg Jets this season. If you haven’t checked out the year in review for your favourite player(s) make sure to do so! We’re getting down to the wire on recapping the Jets players 2023-24 seasons and looking forward to their 2024-25 seasons.
The 32-year old Nate Schmidt is an undrafted defenceman from St. Cloud, Minnnesota who is now an established puck moving defenceman who used to play a lot of minutes every night. After spending 5 seasons with the Washington Capitals organization, 3 seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights, and 1 season with the Vancouver Canucks, Schmidt has called Winnipeg home for the past 3 seasons. In 63 games this season, Schmidt scored 2 goals and added 12 assists for 14 points. His production this season was the lowest of his career for a full season, but despite that, there are some things on the ice that Schmidt brings that makes him a likeable teammate and noteworthy player. In 3 playoff games Schmidt scored 1 goal after being added to the defence unit in game 3 of the Jets 5 game series loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Schmidt missed some games due to injury or being a healthy scratch, but when he was in the lineup he was mostly noticeable for his ability to block shots and contribute on the penalty kill. Schmidt isn’t quite the player he used to be anymore, but he’s found a way to develop his game into a more defensive kind of defence all while still being good at moving the puck up the ice to his forwards. Like many other players further down the Jets lineup, Schmidt has some much needed versatility which allows him to play on the left or right side. There’s times this season where Schmidt has forgotten to focus on his defensive responsibilities and that has cost the Jets off the rush.
Regardless of how Schmidt’s playstyle has developed over the past few seasons, the main thing to talk about when it comes to Schmidt is the fact that he’s simply a great teammate. Schmidt is one of those guys in the locker room that every team wishes they could have, as he just always seems to have a smile on his face. Even though his play this season wasn’t too similar to what he accomplished earlier in his career with the Golden Knights, he continues to work on the little things that help him get noticed more further into his career.
The other main talking point with Nate Schmidt is his contract, because let’s face it, that’s the thing that worries Jets fans the most when they see the way he was playing this season. Back when Schmidt was an early key member of the Golden Knights in 2018, he signed a 6 year, 35.7 million dollar deal. While Vegas appeared to get pretty good value out of him, the teams Schmidt played for after have had to worry about his contract when trying to deal him. Schmidt will make 5.95 million dollars for the 2024-25 season, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2025 at age 33.
Going into his final season of his contract, Jets fans have already started asking questions as to what the Jets will do with Schmidt. Despite being a great teammate and still a solid puck moving defenceman, his play just hasn’t been worth the amount he is making on his current contract. The Jets could try to move Schmidt to a team in the off-season while retaining his salary. The Jets could also explore a buyout option since there is only 1 year left and it could still save them some money for the short term.
It’s one of the many tough decisions that the Jets need to make this off-season, but when you take a look at the log-jam of defence that the Jets already have available, it makes sense why it might be time to let Schmidt go. Dylan Samberg is beginning to emerge, and so are other upcoming defenceman such as Elias Salomonsson and Ville Heinola. The Jets may also be without Brenden Dillon next season who will hit free agency, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do to shape up their defence for the upcoming season. Regardless if Schmidt is on the Jets team in 2024-25 or not, he’ll still be remembered for his time here as a good fundamentals player and an even greater teammate both on and off the ice.


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