After dealing away young talent Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes because of cap restrictions, the Chicago Blackhawks were desperate to get a rising talent on their roster as quick as possible. With their eyes fixed on prospect Nick Schmaltz, they may have found what they were looking for.
Chicago Blackhawks Nick Schmaltz Has Big Shoes To Fill
Schmaltz, the Hawks 1st round pick in 2014 (20th overall) had 11 goals and 35 assists in 37 games for North Dakota. Despite a great season at UND, taking home the national championship and only going into his junior year, the Hawks convinced him to turn pro.
Schmaltz signed a three-year entry level contract Sunday evening and will have a great opportunity to fight for a roster spot when training camp arrives in September. The big doubt that still remains is if he’s ready to take on such an important role in the Hawks roster.
Teravainen was a great player on the Blackhawks but struggled during his final year. He was bounced around from line to line, taken on and off the power play and penalty kill, and didn’t have much offensive production forwards the end of the season. Some could blame the coaching and misplacing him, others would blame his self discipline. Either way, there’s a void where he once stood, and Schmaltz has big shoes to fill with all of these high expectations.
The UND all star is going to be looked at to take in a lot of responsibility. The Blackhawks current roster doesn’t have much to offer and will need production from almost every line to maintain their winning pedigree. Although it may seem unreasonable for the 20 year old to be a prominent goal scorer in his rookie year, he’s still looked at to assist in other areas on the ice.
It won’t be hard to find where Schmaltz fits in September. His hockey IQ and smart play will almost guarantee him a spot on the official roster for the 2016-17 season, as if that already wasn’t said and done. It’ll be up to the coaching staff to figure out where Schmaltz is going to debut and who he’ll play with. Nonetheless, he’s going to have a lot of pressure heading into his rookie year. It’s up to him to figure out how to take it.