Family Blueprint Has Served Prospect Schmaltz Well
North American forward prospect has sights set on brother's footsteps
ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia on June 27-28. Nick Schmaltz is the No. 19-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings.
If Nick Schmaltz is selected by the Avalanche in this week’s NHL Draft his parents will have a division rivalry to deal with at family events for years to come.
Nick’s brother, Jordan, is a junior defenseman at the University of North Dakota and a prospect for the St. Louis Blues. He was the No. 25 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and he created somewhat of a path-to-the-NHL checklist for Nick, a 5-foot-11, 172-pound forward.
First: playing for the Chicago Misson bantam major junior team.
Second: excelling with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL.
Nick now hopes to check off “first-round pick” and join his brother for a few years at UND, where he’s set to be a freshman.
"Nick is a player with a very high hockey IQ, and I think his vision and creativity with the puck are his best attributes," Jordan told NHL.com. “In my mind he plays like (Montreal Canadiens forward) Thomas Vanek, with the way he can slow down the game.”
Nick, ranked No. 19 on Central Scouting's final list of draft-eligible North American skaters, immediately stood out as an offensive playmaker for the Green Bay Gamblers.
In the 2012-13 season he was the youngest player to make the USHL All-Rookie Team after he had 52 points (18 goals and 32 assists) in 64 games.
His coach with the Green Bay, Derek Lalonde spoke to NHL.com about coaching both Schmaltz brothers.
"[Nick and Jordan] are two very special hockey players, and knowing that Jordan was chosen in the first round and Nick might also be picked in the first round is pretty incredible," said to NHL.com Derek Lalonde, who coached and was general manager of the Gamblers for three seasons after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Denver.
"They both have good hockey sense,” he said. “I feel that Nick has more God-given genetics—he's a little taller and his shoulders are broader.”
Nick obviously has experience with the draft, having watched his brother get called in the first round two years ago, but he said dealing with his final year of eligibility was left up to him.
"My brother hasn't said much with regard to my draft year,” he said. “He just told me to take care of my game and play my heart out. The rest should take care of itself.”
Nick certainly took care of his game, getting off to a hot start by leading all scorers with nine points (five goals and four assists) at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, aka the U-18 Junior World Cup, for the second-place United States team.
He then kept things rolling with the national team, earning an MVP and a gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in November. Schmaltz’s 12 points were a tournament record, as were his eight assists.
"He's a dynamic offensive player," NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "He's really good at making you think the puck will be taken away from him, but he has such quick hands and can skate with it at full speed and then pull it away from you at full speed."
Schmaltz’s 2013-14 season with the Gamblers was outstanding, too. He tallied 63 points (18 goals and 45 assists) in 55 games, which led his team and was good enough for seventh in the USHL.
That well-rounded approach has always been a part of Schmaltz’s game, and he’s planning on continuing that development as he makes his way through that checklist big brother left for him.
“(Detroit Red Wings center) [Pavel] Datsyuk is a great two-way player,” he said, “and I like to model my game after his, but I need to work on my defensive game a little more.”