While most players in this series of Arizona Coyotes Top 25 under 25 were drafted and developed by the team, our third-placed player was acquired just over two years ago in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.
19/20 League: NHL (Arizona Coyotes)
Games played: 70
Highest rating: 3
Lowest rating: 4
After making 17 appearances, registering five goals and 14 total points in his debut season with the Coyotes, Nick Schmaltz finished the 2019/20 season as the team’s top points producer.
Injuries prevented him from having a larger impact on the team in 2018/19, but his 11 goals and 34 points over 70 games helped the Coyotes earn a spot in the NHL’s qualifying round of the post-season.
Schmaltz was a player that the Coyotes missed during their post-season run after he suffered an injury from a hit to the head from Vegas Golden Knights’ Ryan Reaves that would keep him from taking to the ice again that season.
The 24-year-old Madison, Wisconsin native will be entering his third season with the Coyotes intent on living up to his $5.85 million contract, with a view to eclipse the 50-point mark for the second time in his career, having topped out at 52 (21G, 31A) with the Blackhawks in 17/18.
While he is capable of playing at center, Schmaltz appears to be more effective playing on the wing, with subpar face-off skills leading to a 38.7% career success rating from the circle.
He is a reliable playmaker that holds an important role on a team that generally lacks offensive production, with some chemistry shown between him and Clayton Keller so far in his tenure in the desert.
Schmaltz averaged less ice time (15:32) during his first full season with the Coyotes compared to when he was originally traded to the team (18:01) and he will need to prove to the team that he can be a legitimate top-line forward that can help get the best out of the likes of Keller and even Phil Kessel.
Schmaltz still has plenty of room to grow, with injuries largely slowing down his development at the professional level, and the shortened 56-game season should bring the best out of a player such as him.
Having fewer games to make an impact should see Schmaltz play with more urgency and push him towards another top spot in points produced - though more goals will certainly be the desire after just 11 last time around.
A shot at the post-season through this newly formed West Division will be a strong motivation for the Arizona Coyotes, and Schmaltz should be a significant role in helping the team achieve that outcome.