The NHL held the first round of it’s annual Entry Draft at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania last night. The Chicago Blackhawks held the 27th overall pick out of 3o total selections in the first round and many names were mentioned as to whom the Blackhawks would select when they were on the clock.
Robert Fabbri, a center from the OHL, right winger Anton Karlsson from Sweden, and Brayden Point, a center from the WHL were all mentioned in mock drafts. Instead, the Hawks, deciding they did not want to wait until the 27th selection, moved up seven spots to 20th overall. In order to do so, the Hawks traded the 27th and 62nd overall pick to the San Jose Sharks for the 20th and 179th overall picks. With the 20th overall pick, the Blackhawks selected none of the ladder names, but center Nick Schmaltz from the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
Schmaltz is listed as a right handed center at 6’0”, 172 pounds. He has committed to play next season at the University of North Dakota. Schmaltz told reporters he could spend the next two or three seasons in North Dakota. While this may not be a flashy pick, where you might see immediate production, Rocky Wirtz and Stan Bowman made a smart selection.
In a press conference after their selection, Stan Bowman stated, “We’ve been really following him starting last August during the first tournament of the year over in Slovakia. He was probably the best player. We saw him available and we were calling around to see who might be willing to trade the pick to us and it worked out.” Wirtz and Bowman have been known to make excellent hockey decisions that will keep the Hawks in contention for a Stanley Cup for years to come.
Schmaltz is a great offensive talent, posting 63 points in 55 games. He is a decent two way player, but needs to prove he can consistently defend his own zone. Schmaltz also possesses great vision on the ice, along with the ability to control the puck with his great hands.
Though he is not NHL- ready just yet, his time at North Dakota will help him grow into a prospect Blackhawks fans will be excited to see get the call. And who knows, maybe following in Jonathan Toews’ shoes at North Dakota will turn him into the next Hawks big star. Only time will tell.