Schmaltz elevating play, stock in draft year

Christian Roatis2014 Draft Center, Features

Scoring points is something of a comfort zone for Nick Schmaltz – he’s been doing it his entire career.

From Midget, where he piled up a staggering 117 points in 62 games, to present day in the USHL, Schmaltz has been relied upon to contribute to his team’s offense. After a successful rookie campaign in 2012/13 with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL that saw him light the lamp 18 times alongside 52 points in 64 games, Schmaltz stormed the Ivan Hlinka Tournament this past summer with the USA U18 team posting five goals and nine points in just five games.

These tremendous performances served as an excellent foreshadow for what was to come for the 6-0, 172-pound 17-year-old.

Schmaltz has started his draft season equally as strong with six goals and 23 points in 21 USHL games, but it was his performance at the World Junior A Challenge last month that really made headlines.

Schmaltz set a tournament record with a ridiculous four goals and 12 points in just four contests, impressing his coach greatly.

“[He is a] very special player and at times he elevates his game. [When] we were sometimes down in games, he [takes] it to another level,” said coach Derek Lalonde.

Schmaltz’s ability to take his game to another level is already impressive as is, but he has the drive and desire to take his game even further – possibly to elite echelon’s – said Lalonde.

“Nick wants to be a player, obviously. Sometimes [with] those really high-end, skilled offensive guys, it’s easy to knock them in certain parts of their game, but Nick wants to be an elite player, he takes his off-ice very serious and he’s so mature with his approach to the game,” said Lalonde. “Just to see how he’s grown over the last couple years and where he’s got his game now it’s a credit to him because he wants to be a player.”

Playing in front of scouts night in and night out can sometimes wear on a player mentally and lead him to focus more on individual play rather than to keep with the team mentality. But Schmaltz has drawn up a blueprint to follow to avoid neglecting his team while still presenting himself as viable for the scouts.

“Obviously, [the] team [comes] first, but it’s in the back of my mind and I’ve just been kind of playing my game. I know if I play to my strengths and make plays with speed it will just take care of itself in the long run,” said the Verona, Wisconsin product, Schmaltz.

The blueprint seems to be a good one because scouts are certainly taking notice – in a good way.

“He’s a good skater and while not a speed demon, he can still deke you out in tight quarters,” said FC scout Chapin Landvogt. “He can be very slick and clever with the puck, and can shoot it equally as good – although he seems to prefer playmaking over shooting at times. This certainly is not a drawback as his vision allows him to find teammates through traffic.”

With the 2014 NHL Draft rapidly approaching, Schmaltz has climbed to 20th in Future Considerations’ December ranking and his continued early season success has made him a prime candidate for further elevation in the rankings.

Although it’s certainly something he thinks about, Schmaltz has no real preference in terms of a draft spot and has his priories in check for the rest of the year.

“As long as I get drafted somewhere I’ll be happy, so I just [have] got to take care of the season first and then let that take care of itself,” he said.