After three and a half hours of waiting, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally revealed their first selection of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. With the 96th overall pick the Lightning selected 18-year old defenceman Roman Schmidt from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
The American defenceman from Michigan spent the past two seasons in the U.S. National Development program, scoring 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 22 games in the USHL last season. He also played in five games at U18 World Championship, but didn’t record any points. He originally committed to Boston University next season, but eventually opted out to play for the Kitchener Rangers, who selected him as the 36th overall pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. According to his latest interview, Schmidt thinks it will help him to adapt to the NHL style better.
Schmidt is pretty big, a 6’6” and 209 pounds defenceman with a great skating skills for a blueliner his size. According to most profiles, he’s mostly a shutdown defenceman, who could be very useful in battles along the boards and knows how to use his stick to retrieve the puck. He’s a right-handed defenceman and can play at the right side of defense, which is historically the weakest side of the Lightning’s roster.
Schmidt also believes that he will be given more opportunity to play in the offense in the OHL. Despite his size, he has a pretty impressive speed, heavy snapshot, however his passing accuracy still needs to be improved. His idol is Victor Hedman and he himself thinks that he has more to offer offensively.
#tblightning third round pick Roman Schmidt says he feels he’s got more offensive upside he hasn’t tapped into yet. His idol is Victor Hedman, so “surreal” to be in same org. Had to pick between figure skating + hockey at age 8-9, his dad was skater, mom an Olympic ice dancer— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) July 24, 2021
He ranked 65th on Bob McKenzie prospect ranking, 137th on the McKeen’s Hockey list and 58th amongst North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting.
Schmidt’s understanding of body positioning, lane coverage and box-outs when defending the cycle are all useful, translatable tools for a player looking to establish himself as a proper, stay-at-home defenseman. It is inconsistent at times, especially against tougher opponents such as the Chicago Steel, but he has shown on more than one occasion that he is very comfortable defending his own zone.
His skating is average among defensemen but surprising given his massive frame. He does not currently have an NHL skating stride by any means, but his agility, pivoting and acceleration are all standouts given how massive he is, and he will only improve with post-draft development time and attention to details. His strides are a bit short and heavy, but he shows quick feet on crossovers, indicating that there is a foundation to build upon in that regard [Hockey Writers]
96. Bolts take NTDP RHD Roman Schmidt. Very underrated footwork and hands for a massive defenseman. Hits hard and blankets the neutral zone. Holds line firm. Makes opponents pay for net front. Was going to BU but now headed to OHL's Kitchener Rangers. pic.twitter.com/mQVrjBHV86— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) July 24, 2021
Roman Schmidt had a real nice shift on the PK a few minutes ago, reaching out to deny a pass and then using his strength to deny the 2nd attempt. pic.twitter.com/pSgN7jc608— Alex Taxman (@AIexTaxman) November 29, 2020
Sasha Pastujov makes it 2-0 with a tuck at the front of the net off of a Roman Schmidt point shot. It has been an up-and-down year for Schmidt, who struggled to find his footing under a new U18 staff, but he has begun to put it together in recent weeks: pic.twitter.com/erzsActALY— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) April 8, 2021