The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be relying on young players to step up their games next season, and one of their top prospects will be along for the ride as the team has agreed to an entry-level contract with forward Nick Schmaltz.
Schmaltz, a first round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, was indecisive about ending his college career at the University of North Dakota, but after the Teuvo Teravainen trade conceivably opened up a top-six forward spot in the Blackhawks’ lineup, the star prospect has decided to make the jump to the NHL.
Schmaltz scored 11 goals and dished out 35 assists in his final season at North Dakota, setting career highs in both categories. He helped the Fighting Hawks to the NCAA championship in the 2016 season, and he also represented the United States at the 2016 World Junior Championships as he scored two goals and had six assists in the tournament.
As for where Schmaltz could fit in, there are plenty of options for the Hawks. He could potentially win a job on the top line along with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, or Joel Quenneville could use him as a third line center to help ease his adjustment into the NHL. An AHL stint is possible, but with how highly-touted the prospect is, and how thin the Hawks’ lineup is when it comes to playmaking forwards, he has a very real chance of making a big impact on the NHL roster right away.