Schmidt gives up senior year with Minnesota, says deal with Capitals is ‘right decision’

Minnesota junior defenseman Nate Schmidt has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals, forgoing his senior season with the Gophers.

“I wouldn’t trade my experience at the University of Minnesota for anything and I am incredibly grateful to the team and staff for three great seasons at the ‘U,’ Schmidt said in a news release. “This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it is the right decision and I am looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my playing career.”

In 96 career games at Minnesota, Schmidt tallied 74 points and 12 goals as a two-time All-WCHA defenseman.

This past season, Schmidt recorded nine goals and 32 points, good for third in all of NCAA Division I defensemen scoring.

“Nate is a great example of someone who was overlooked in the draft, but worked hard on and off the ice to put himself in great position to become our top defenseman the last two years,” Gophers’ coach Don Lucia added. “He had two tremendous years and felt he was ready to take his game to the next level. He has a great opportunity with Washington and I want to wish him the best as he turns pro and thank him for his contributions to Gopher hockey.”