PHILADELPHIA – Nick Schmaltz has long been a Chicago Blackhawks fan, a natural choice for a kid growing up in Madison, Wisc.
On Friday, his dream of being selected by the organization came true.
Schmaltz was selected 20th overall, after the Blackhawks traded with San Jose to get that pick, at the NHL Entry Draft on Friday night. For Schmaltz, who played for Green Bay of the USHL and will attend North Dakota in the fall, the reality hasn’t sunk in it.
“I’ve dreamed of being with the Blackhawks, so I couldn’t be happier,” said the 18-year-old Schmaltz. “Just to hear my name is a true honor.”
The Blackhawks traded with San Jose for the 20th and 179th overall picks after Tampa Bay made its selection with the 19th overall pick. The Sharks got the Blackhawks’ 27th and 62nd overall picks in return. Schmaltz was hoping the Blackhawks would pick him, and got his wish moments after the Blackhawks completed their picks trade with San Jose.
“We liked Nick,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “We’ve been following him starting last August, that first tournament over in Slovakia, he was probably the best in the tournament. He opened our eyes then and we followed him closely all year. When we saw him available, we called around to see who might be willing to trade the pick to us and it worked out with San Jose.”
Schmaltz also thought there was an outside chance he’d be taken by St. Louis; his brother Jordan, was the Blues’ 25th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
But now the immediate course is set. The Blackhawks have made him theirs, he’ll head to North Dakota to develop for a few years, up to four if necessary. Schmaltz said his game fits right into the Blackhawks’ style of play. Perhaps in a few years, he’ll find that out firsthand.
“It’s pretty cool. Only 30 guys in the world go in the first round,” Schmaltz said. “It’s a pretty big accomplishment, but now the real work starts.”