The Chicago Blackhawks have signed top prospect Nick Schmaltz to a three-year entry-level deal, the team announced Sunday.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 19, 2016
Chicago Blackhawks Sign Nick Schmaltz
Schmaltz, 20, was selected by Chicago with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the last two seasons playing for the University of North Dakota. He previously spent three years with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
Last season was a particularly strong one for Schmaltz as he registered 11 goals and 35 assists in 37 games en route to a national championship with the Fighting Hawks. In 75 NCAA games, the Wisconsin native has amassed 16 goals and 56 assists in total.
He captured silver at the 2013 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament while putting up eight points (5G, 3A) in five games. Schmaltz has also represented the United States in two World Junior Championships (2015, 2016). The playmaking center secured a bronze medal for him and his country thanks to his performance in the 2016 WJC. Schmaltz tallied eight points (2G, 6A) in seven games throughout the tournament.
The decision by Schmaltz to transition into professional hockey comes as little shock after Teuvo Teravainen was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes along with Bryan Bickell four days ago. This does not necessarily mean that a roster spot in the Hawks top-six is guaranteed for Schmaltz, but he boasts the highest skill level and hockey IQ out of any of the Blackhawks prospects. His ability to execute passes in tight areas is a rarity and he proved how well he can maneuver through traffic with both his stick handling and skating.
Schmaltz’s defensive prowess perhaps sets him apart from the competition even further. He’s responsible in his own zone and is constantly improving to round out his two-way game. Combine that with his recent success at the NCAA level and you may see Schmaltz suit up in the NHL next season if he continues his stellar play.