Vancouver Canucks: Nate Schmidt is the perfect ‘big bro’ for Quinn Hughes

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Nate Schmidt will come around to the Vancouver Canucks in no time.

Nate Schmidt just might have been the most popular player on the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019-20.

Not among the team’s fanbase mind you, that honor probably belongs to William Karlsson, Mark Stone, or even Marc-Andre Fleury, but in the locker room? Yeah, there are few who could match his admiration. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who would routinely play Christmas music to ‘fire up the boys’ and chaired the Golden Knights’ “Fun Committee” in the NHL bubble.

For a team once affectionately known as the ‘Misfit Knights,’ Schmidt was like that cool older brother with ‘Ride the Lightning’ permanently stuck in his ’86 Camaro’s cassette deck.

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And now, for the low, low price of a 2022 third-round pick, Schmidt is a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and gets a perfect opportunity to prove to Vegas once and for all that he’s every bit as impactful of a player as Alex Pietrangelo – even if it doesn’t always show up on the stats sheet.

In Schmidt, the Canucks are getting a motivated, cheesed-off 29-year-old left-handed defenseman who has averaged 25 assists, 32 points, and 104 blocks over his three-year tenure with Vegas. They’re also getting, in my humble opinion, a perfect linemate for Quinn Hughes, who is gearing up for a breakout third campaign as the Canucks’ most exciting player.

No offense to Alexander Edler, who had the highest ATOI of any non-goalie on the Canucks last season at the tender age of 34, but Vancouver has been lacking during the Hughes-era. He’s a crafty, hardworking glue guy who does the little things right for the entirety of his 22-ish minutes of action on-ice a night. Though he’s not going to suddenly pop off for 20-plus goals – especially during an abbreviated regular season – or supplant Hughes as the team’s top defensive facilitator, Schmidt’s ability to always be in the right place at the right time will surely help the Canucks’ push for a top-4 spot in the new Canada Division.

Heck, if anything, Schmidt’s addition should allow Hughes to play even freer, as he’ll always have a partner in crime ready to pick up the slack if the 21-year-old is out of position.

Throw that all together, wrap it in a bow, and you get a soon-to-be fan favorite who could become a fixture of the Cannucks’ defense long after Edler hangs up his skates – much to the chagrin of the seemingly always in-flux Golden Knights.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Let’s see what Canucks’ GM Jim Benning had to say on the addition of Schmidt shortly after acquiring the 29-year-old earlier this month.

“In getting Schmidt, we’ve acquired a guy that can play minutes in all situations, in a matchup role against the other team’s best players.”

Hmm… it sounds like he’s a fan.

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In the NHL, nothing is permanent. Even the best players around, say, Alex Ovechkin, will eventually hang up their cleats and may even finish out their careers in a different uniform; it’s just the nature of the sport. While Nate Schmidt will admit firsthand that he didn’t want to leave the sweaty, desert confines of Las Vegas to play for anywhere, especially a one-way trip to Canada for the next five-plus months, something tells me this marriage has legs. It’s clear the Vancouver Canncuks like Schmidt enough to trade away a third-rounder for his services, and if his ‘big brother’ vibes hold true, that feeling should be mutual in no time at all.