A 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman, Schmidt made it to the NHL despite going undrafted following his senior season at St. Cloud Cathedral High School in Minnesota in 2008-09. He had finished as the second-highest scoring defenseman in the state (25 goals, 53 points) and led his team to the Class A state semifinals.
Schmidt spent the 2009-10 season with Fargo of the United States Hockey League, scoring 14 goals and 37 points in 57 games before heading to the University of Minnesota. The transition to college hockey took time; as a freshman, Schmidt had one point in 13 games.