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Chicago Blackhawks Future Friday: Nick Schmaltz

By Mario Tirabassi
Apr 7, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; North Dakota Fighting Hawks forward Nick Schmaltz (8) celebrates after he scores the go ahead goal during the third period at the semifinals of the 2016 Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament against the Denver Pioneers at Amalie Arena. North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Denver Pioneers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; North Dakota Fighting Hawks forward Nick Schmaltz (8) celebrates after he scores the go ahead goal during the third period at the semifinals of the 2016 Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament against the Denver Pioneers at Amalie Arena. North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Denver Pioneers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Waiting Game Ends For Nick Schmaltz, Chicago Blackhawks

It’s been a long two years between the Chicago Blackhawks drafting forward Nick Schmaltz and the Blackhawks signing Schmaltz. June 27, 2014, to June 20, 2016, was a long “if and when” time period for the Blackhawks organization, its fans and Schmaltz’s camp to wait for an entry-level deal to be put together.

The deal that the Blackhawks and Schmaltz agreed to is the top-end entry-level deal, three years at $925,000 AAV, and it looks as if the straw that broke the camel’s back to get the deal done was the Teuvo Teravainen trade to the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Schmaltz, after two successful years at the University of North Dakota in which he played in 75 games and tallied 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) and won a NCAA national title this past year, signed his contract five days after the trade. That led many to believe that the Blackhawks were more comfortable trading Teravainen knowing Schmatlz was going to sign, or that Schmaltz would not sign unless a spot on the NHL-level opened up for him.

Check it out: AHL Players Will Be Key For 2016-17 Blackhawks

It’s the second thought that leaves some with a bit of a bad taste when it comes to getting Schmaltz into the Blackhawks’ roster and leaves a lot to be desired for fans and the organization to expect out of Schmaltz.

Schmaltz Carries High Expectations

Schmaltz joins the Blackhawks at a time when the organization is putting a high emphasis on internal development and growth from within as prospects are being put in to the spotlight and the team has hit the salary cap crunch again.

Schmaltz isn’t going to jump straight into a top-line role, but many have speculated that by the end of the upcoming season, Schmaltz could be seeing a good amount of ice time with players like Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

If Schmaltz does what many scouts say he can do at the NHL level, and he has an impressive summer with prospect camp and the Blackhawks’ training camp, a very involved opening-day role could be very feasible.

Future Projection

Right now, Schmaltz has the talent to step into most NHL rosters and play significant minutes. Many scouts praise his puck-handling ability and his on-ice vision to distribute the puck. Many consider his shot an under-utilized asset to his game and believe his defensive work could still round out before he’s a true top-line NHL option.

If Schmaltz can play with the confidence and effectiveness that he showed during the World Juniors this last season, Blackhawks fans will have a lot to be excited for. Schmaltz is still a prospect — he won’t be Toews 2.0 right out of the gate — but his offensive talent right now is impressive.

Next: Blackhawks' Free Agency Options

A future top-line option for Chicago is very realistic for Schmaltz if he continues to develop while playing with Chicago’s top-skill players.

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