Following a national championship at North Dakota in his sophomore season, 20-year-old Nick Schmaltz opted to turn professional over returning to college for his junior year.
Signed last month to an entry-level contract, the 2014 first-round pick now turns his attention to trying to make the Chicago Blackhawks — a team that traded Teuvo Teravainen this spring — next season.
Schmaltz thought long and hard about whether to sign with the Hawks or remain at North Dakota for another year. Trading Teravainen opened a spot on the roster for a player who fits Schmaltz’s profile: a center who is most comfortable with the puck on his stick.
When he signed, it was thought that Schmaltz could perhaps be the replacement for Teravainen — a tall order right off the bat given Teravainen had 13 goals and 35 assists in his first full season in Chicago.
Schmaltz isn’t the only prospect looking to make a possible jump to the NHL with the Blackhawks next season.
Ryan Hartman, Chicago’s first-round pick from 2013 and the last selection in that opening round, hopes to be a potential replacement for Andrew Shaw, who was dealt at the draft. Again, difficult shoes to fill at first.
“We play similar styles: feed off energy, make plays at the net, be one of the hard players to play against,” Hartman told CSN Chicago.
“Obviously with cap issues, stuff’s going to happen in the offseason. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen but it’s an opportunity now for me, especially, and some other guys to make a push, try to make the team this year.”