Defenseman Nate Schmidt will miss six to eight weeks after being diagnosed with a broken left shoulder blade following a collision while playing for the Hershey Bears on Sunday, the Washington Capitals announced.
Schmidt, who had been a healthy scratch for seven of the Capitals’ nine previous games, has played in 33 games this season and was consistently paired with Mike Green. Assigned to the minor leagues on Saturday in order to log ice time during the Bears’ two-game series against the Norfolk Admirals, Schmidt nearly had a hat trick in a 3-1 victory that day, with his potential third goal credited to Casey Wellman after it deflected into the goal off the forward’s stick.
The defenseman was trying to collect a puck behind Hershey’s net on Sunday when he took a hit into the end boards by Norfolk center Chris Wagner. Schmidt was slow to get off the ice and did not return to the game before medical examination determined the severity of the injury. There was no penalty called on the play.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters Monday that Schmidt will not require surgery. He should be able to return by mid-March.
“Obviously, we had good intentions of him going down there to play,” Trotz said. “That’s a huge loss for us — huge for him — because I think we were really happy with where he is at, so it’s sort of hockey. That’s what happens sometimes.”
Trotz said the Capitals will likely hold off on recalling another defenseman from Hershey until later in the week. Jack Hillen has skated alongside Green during Schmidt’s absence.
Washington also announced that goaltender Justin Peters, who played for the Bears over the weekend on a conditioning loan, has been recalled while Pheonix Copley has returned to Hershey. Peters has played in just seven games this season and none since Nov. 29, when he relieved goaltender Braden Holtby in a loss at Toronto. Including Monday’s game against Colorado, Holtby has started 25 consecutive games in goal for the Capitals — a franchise record.