Yesterday,the Chicago Blackhawks traded Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes for two draft picks. What impact does this have on the prospects of Nick Schmaltz to leave early and sign with the Blackhawks?
The Blackhawks have room for Schmaltz to compete at the NHL level this season. They have multiple contracts coming off of the books and will have room to sign him to an entry-level deal. If Schmaltz leaves UND will be fine. There will still be a line featuring two first round picks in Brock Boeser and Tyson Jost. UND will still have Austin Poganski and Rhett Gardner shutting down the best lines the opposition has to offer.Cam Johnson will still be in net making good saves and keeping UND in pretty much every game. The Blackhawks do have a fair amount of forwards that will not be resigning with the club this offseason, so there is room for Schmaltz to sign with the team.
Schmaltz does make outstanding passes and great plays with the puck. He needs one more year at UND in my opinion to refine his game a bit more. For example, the more Schmaltz can bury the open shot, the tougher he becomes to defend. Also, if Schmaltz could see some more time on the penalty kill this season that would boost his readiness. In the NHL Nick will most likely start out on the third line, and thus be asked to help kill penalties. Since Schmaltz will not earn top six minutes for Chicago, he will be asked to play on the team’s bottom six and provide a physical presence in his game. Schmaltz is so close to being able to do that. Spending one more year at UND will help him refine and develop other areas of his game like shooting and defense.
If Schmaltz were to sign with the Blackhawks, he may be riding a shuttle bus between the AHL and NHL all season if he does not do well. At North Dakota, Schmaltz is a star that plays like Nick Backstrom, and makes Backstrom-esque passes to Brock Boeser on a routine basis. He has one more year where he cannot become a free agent at the end of the season. Nick should use that year to get better in all facets of his game so he does not have to see the AHL at all next year.