Main Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Coyotes have recently been playing fun and rather good hockey. Most of this is due to the success of forward Nick Schmaltz. Nick Schmaltz is having a career year in the desert as he is slowly becoming a point-per-game player. Schmaltz, whos just 26 years of age, was drafted in 2o14 with the 20th overall selection by the Chicago Blackhawks. Due to his success and breakout year in the desert, how did we get here? And what else can Schmaltz do to elevate his game?
Early Career Ups & Downs
Being drafted to Chicago, Schmaltz would be playing with some elite talent, including the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Before making his debut with Chicago in 2016, he played at the University of North Dakota for two seasons. During those two seasons with the Fighting Hawks, he had 16 goals and 56 assists for 72 points. He then made his debut shortly after in the 2016-17 season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He showed some potential as a goal scorer his sophomore year when he scored 52 points in 78 games.
Nick Schmaltz was then traded just after his breakout year in Chicago to the Arizona Coyotes. Since being traded to the Coyotes, he has flourished in the desert. Schmaltz cemented himself in the NHL’s history books after he showcased his offensive ability against the Senators last year. Not only did his seven points set a new Coyotes/Jets club record, but it was also the most points in a single game by any player in the league in the last 10 years. Another reason for his success in the desert is his chemistry with his teammates.
Confirmed: Nick Schmaltz is good at hockey. pic.twitter.com/Ea37IWgHTR
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 29, 2022
Chemistry With Teammates Playing Dividends
Chemistry with your teammates is vital to succeeding in the National Hockey League. He excels when he is playing with Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton. The familiarity of playing with the same linemates frequently, coupled with head coach Andre Tourigny’s system, helped improve confidence as the season went on. Schmaltz says, “Bear (Tourigny) gave us some creative room to make plays,” Schmaltz said. “If you get back and play defense hard, you’re going to be able to make those plays.”
So far, Barrett Hayton, Clayton Keller, and Nick Schmaltz have a total of 108 points combined. So far this year, Schmaltz was injured for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season, but since coming back, he has been on fire. Individually, Schmaltz currently has 14 goals and 21 assists in 40 games played. He is also on pace for 58 points which would be one point shy of his season total last year. He has improved in many ways this year; he is skating stronger and only a -1 on the season which is pretty good for the circumstances the Coyotes are in.
The chemistry between all of them should continue to get better and better as the seasons progress. If they can do that, Schmalz can prove he is a core piece of this team going forward.
Core Piece Moving Forward
Nick Schmaltz has established himself as a key piece of this rebuild. Nick Schmaltz said this about the upcoming youth and his hard work “When it’s time to work, I want to make sure I’m leading that way, working hard, not taking any drills off or taking any shortcuts, and paving the way for some of these younger guys coming up,” he said. “Hopefully we get some of these younger guys involved and they take the next step.” A young prospect that could make their Coyotes debut could be the 2022 3rd overall pick, Logan Cooley.
Clearly, the Coyotes know Nick Schmaltz is a core piece of this rebuild. With the hopes of winning a Stanley cup one day, any organization would want Nick Schmaltz on their roster.