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Caps fans thrilled to welcome Nate Schmidt back to DC

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NBC Sports Washington

Caps fans thrilled to welcome Nate Schmidt back to DC

Nate Schmidt was beloved by Caps fans for his great hair, his smile and his general positivity, not to mention his dependability on the ice. 

When the young defendseman was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights as a part of the expansion draft in June it was disappointing for the Capitals, but saying goodbye to Schmidt was even harder for the fans.

Sunday's game against the Golden Knights was Schmidt's first time back to DC since his move to Vegas.

Schmidt became a fan-favorite in Washington, D.C. in short order, and it wasn't a facade. Schmidt is an eternally happy person, and the response from the Capitals fans on Sunday was evidence of this.

RELATED: 4 reasons why the Caps lost to the Golden Knights

Prior to the game, Caps fans eagerly awaited Schmidt to come out for warmups with signs and #88 jerseys, cheering as he took the ice.

Schmidt was equally as happy to return, saying he had a blast in Washington and is thankful to see familiar faces again.

MORE CAPITALS: LATEST POWER RANKINGS

The Capitals formally welcomed Schmidt back with an announcement during the first period.

Las Vegas is having a surprisingly successful season for an expansion team.

They lead the Pacific Division by a wide margin and are second overall in the NHL. Schmidt has been a significant contributor to the success, recording 4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points so far this season and averaging 22:30 minutes per game.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!