Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt returns from suspension

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt returns to the lineup Sunday night after serving a 20-game suspension.

The 27-year-old was banned last month for violating the NHL's performance-enhancing-drug policy, but Schmidt said he didn't know how he tested positive, and he and the team denied he was seeking a competitive advantage.

The Golden Knights play Edmonton on Sunday night and hope that Schmidt's return stabilizes a team that has stumbled to a 8-11-1 start after going to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

"I'm excited to play hockey again," Schmidt said Sunday.

He was asked about facing Connor McDavid in his first game back.

"Why not do it big right off the start?" Schmidt said. "What better test than to do it in the first game back against one of the best in the world."

During his suspension, the team gave Schmidt a six-year, $35.7 million extension that runs through 2024-25.

"He's one of our best players, so he's going to make a difference all over the ice -- I hope," head coach Gerard Gallant said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Always a solid guy, moves the puck, skates well. You know what kind of player he is, and he's a big part of our group, so hopefully he's going to make a big difference."

The sixth-year defenseman had career highs with five goals and 31 assists last season.