North Dakota rising sophomore forward Nick Schmaltz has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, the club announced on Sunday. Schmaltz was a first round draft selection of the 'hawks in 2014.
Schmaltz had a breakout second year with the Fighting Hawks, centering the 'CBS' line with Brock Boeser and Drake Caggiula and registering 11-35-46 in 37 games played, while helping North Dakota to their eighth national championship.
Schmaltz waited well into the summer before making a final decision. The deciding factor may have come last week when, up against salary cap concerns, the Blackhawks traded regular forward Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina, opening up two spots in Chicago's line-up, and increasing the likelihood that Schmaltz spends more time next season in the NHL.
We ranked Schmaltz as the eighth-best NHL prospect in the NCAA last season, with this scouting report:
Schmaltz made a big leap from year one to year two in college hockey, going from a talented, but young supporting player to centering one of the most dominaiting lines in college hockey this year.
Schmaltz has always been a pass-first playmaker. While that is where he feels the most comfortable, he's put in a lot of work over the past year to become a more complete player. That effort yielded results as he doubled his goal total from five to 10 this year. He's also accepted more defensive responsibility, as evidence by his move to center, and has worked hard to become a more consistent night-in, night-out type of player.
For further reading, here is a more in-depth scouting report from this past November.