Canucks: What Nate Schmidt brings to the blueline

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Nate Schmidt of the Vegas Golden Knights is on the ice. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Just when all hope was lost, the Vancouver Canucks acquired two-way defender Nate Schmidt. Here’s what Schmidt will bring to the blueline next season.

Defenceman Nate Schmidt might be enough to save Jim Benning’s job.

The Vancouver Canucks were down and out at the tail end of Thanksgiving weekend, but general manager JB pulled through and saved the day. After the Vegas Golden Knights signed Alex Pietrangelo to a multi-year contract, Schmidt was handed to the Canucks on a silver platter.

Dealt to the Canucks for the price of a 2022 third-round pick, Canucks Nation went from an angry mob to a fanbase dancing in the streets. The left-shot defender is a proven top-four blueliner and he brings a mixed bag of helpful tools to the table.

Schmidt’s a two-way player who has success at both ends of the ice. He has preferred to play on the right side of the blueline over the past two seasons with the Golden Knights. Now a member of the Canucks, head coach Travis Green will likely choose to keep him to the right to help round out the new-look defence.

He’s a tremendous puck mover that excels at getting the puck up ice. He’s fast and that helps him enter the zone with the puck on his stick (something the Canucks need improvement on). Quinn Hughes is the only other defender on the team who’s quick enough to bring the puck up past the offensive blueline so his presence will help a lot.

He’s not as defensively sound as Chris Tanev (who signed with the Calgary Flames) but he packs much more of an offensive punch. Used in an offensive role with the Knights last year, Schmidt has shown he can produce points from the blueline. He tallied 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists through 59 games. Behind only the elite Shea Theodore, Schmidt was the second-best defender for Vegas last season.

Five-on-five, the power play, penalty kill, you name it — he can deliver. On a full 82-game schedule, Schmidt has averaged nearly 40 points per season over the last three years. He’ll leapfrog Alex Edler on the depth chart, and he’ll likely fill in for him long after he’s gone.

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