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2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Nick Schmaltz

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The Player

Nick Schmaltz

Forward

Green Bay Gamblers(USHL)

2013-2014 stats: 55 games 18 goals 45 assists 63 points 16 PIMs

Height: 5'11.5" Weight: 172 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 19th among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Schmaltz's best asset are his tremendous stickhandling and playmaking ability. His soft hands give him the ability to make plays in high-traffic areas, and a threat to score any time he touches the puck. He's one of the more dynamic offensive threats available in the draft.

The rest of Schmaltz's game isn't as well-rounded as it is on the offensive end of the ice. He'll need to become more consistent on the defensive end of the ice. He also needs to add a lot more strength in his upper body to compete against better competition. His goal total was pretty low this year, though that may be a bit of a function of the poor upper body strength.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Schmaltz moved down slightly on most draft boards over the course of the year, but when a player starts the year as a mid-first round pick like Schmaltz did, there's really nowhere to move but down. There's always a few players that come on strong in a draft year and move way up the list--Alex Tuch for example--and that moved Schmaltz from the mid-first to late-first. Schmaltz basically met what were relatively high expectations for his season.

Draft projection?

Most projections have Schmaltz slipping to the late first round and even out of the first round. But there aren't many players in the draft with Schmaltz's type of offensive upside, and it's hard to imagine a team not willing to take that gamble late in the first round.

Something similar happened two years ago with Schmaltz's older brother Jordan, who most scouting services had ranked in the 35th-45th overall range, but on draft day, his abilities as a slick puck-moving defenseman got him drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Blues. The draft is all about upside, and Nick has a ton of it.

Pro upside?

As mentioned above, his upside is pretty high. Schmaltz is the classic example of a player with the type of offensive gifts that you just can't teach. There are certainly some weak points in his game as well, but they are the type of things that can be improved upon with coaching and experience. Schmaltz has the ability to be a playmaking first line winger at the NHL-level some day. As with any forward outside of the top-five of the draft, it's no guarantee that he reaches that potential, and if he doesn't, the odds of him becoming a serviceable NHL player are relatively slim; he'll need to put up points to stay in the NHL.

Where will he go next?

The Windsor Spitfires of the OHL have given Schmaltz the full-court press for nearly two-and-a-half years now, but Schmaltz seems fully-committed to honoring his commitment to the University of North Dakota. His older brother Jordan is returning to Grand Forks next year so that the two brothers can play a season together. After this season, it's highly likely that Jordan will sign an NHL contract. It's unlikely Nick signs a pro contract after this season as well, unless he has an absolutely great season. More likely is that he'll need a second season in North Dakota to develop a little more muscle before he's ready for the pros.