The Chicago Blackhawks are a team that usually trades back in the draft to acquire more picks, but this season they took a different track and traded up to grab Nick Schmaltz with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
Schmaltz, who was born in Madison, Wisconsin and plays for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, scored 36 goals and dished out 79 assists in 119 games over the past two seasons, and helped lead his team to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. He is committed to attending the University of North Dakota, where Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews attended school.
The Blackhawks originally owned the 27th pick in the first round, but they traded up seven spots and took over the selection from the San Jose Sharks. In exchange for the pick, the Sharks got not only the 27th pick but also the 62nd pick in the draft, with the Hawks getting a sixth round pick in addition to the 20th selection.
There are plenty of solid centers in the Hawks' system, but Schmaltz has the potential to develop into a special one. He has tremendous vision on the ice, and his passing ability is arguably his biggest asset. He also has a great deal of quickness, and he really stands out for his ability to not get out of position when on the ice. He has a very high hockey IQ according to scouts, and he was a guy that was on the radar of several teams in the later stages of the first round, including the St. Louis Blues, who drafted 21st.
Eventually when Schmaltz comes up to Rockford (and with guys like Ryan Hartman and Mark McNeill in the system, there isn't a huge rush), he will be looked to as a potential second line guy to skate behind Toews on the depth chart. He has a lot of upside and a skillset that has scouts drooling, and he already will likely rank among the team's most intriguing prospects.