Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz has gone under the radar to most this season. After registering one point in the team’s first 6 games, the forward went down with an injury on Oct. 25, which would sideline him for the next month, before making his return on Dec. 10.
Upon returning, Schmaltz would find his groove, recording one goal and four assists in the team’s next four games, before the league paused the season over the Christmas break due to the increasing spread of COVID cases around the league.
Schmaltz would once again go cold upon the league’s return to play, only registering one assist in the next seven games. Fearing he would go streaky, something that has seemed to plague him at times, fans have been delighted to see the Wisconsin native find a spark, recording eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last six games, bringing his total to 15 points in 23 games this year. While many don’t believe his hot play of recent will remain constant, the Coyotes’ forward is on the right path.
Schmaltz Adjusting To A New System
It’s safe to say when the Coyotes brought in new head coach André Tourigny this offseason, there was speculation in the air on how he was going to be able to get the team to buy into a new system as they began a lengthy rebuild, one that would be filled with tons of losses. For the first quarter of the season, it was obvious the team was still trying to adjust to Tourigny’s new system.
As a result, guys like Schmaltz struggled to find their groove and get going. Going down with an injury in late October and being sidelined for a month only prevented and delayed the forward from getting acquainted and adjusted to the new system.
The team as of recently with time seems to be settling into the new coaching system. “It took a bit at the start to get used to the new systems, and stuff like that, but I think the last 20 games or so you can really see our team starting to play better and settle into our system better,” forward Schmaltz said after the team’s win over the Canadiens back on Jan. 17.
Coach Tourigny has taken notice too of Schmaltz’s recent play. “I think he’s playing with more, I don’t want to say grit, but a little bit more bite in his game, he’s played with a little bit more passion. He’s a good player, he’s skilled, he has good vision, he has good sense.”
Team Hoping Schmaltz Stays Hot
Schmaltz’s tendency to be streaky at times has always been a discussion among fans. Regardless, he has always contributed as a top role guy on both the Coyotes and his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks. In three seasons with Chicago before being dealt to Arizona, he recorded 29 goals and 62 assists for 91 points in 162 games. In four years so far with Arizona, he’s played 162 games as well, registering 31 goals and 75 assists for 106 points.
With 40 games left to go in the current season, bearing he stays healthy, expect that point total to climb. Schmaltz, when hot, is a big contributor on a team that lacks scoring, and the Coyotes certainly benefit from this and hope to see him continue his upswing.
Whether general manager Bill Armstrong sees Schmaltz as a part of the team’s future or moves him in the near future, it’s no secret the Coyotes need all the scoring help they can get, especially if they want to win games during their rebuild, and when he’s healthy, he is just as big of a role player as Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Phil Kessel, Shayne Gostisbehere, and many others.
What do you think though? Is Schmaltz on the right path and is this new system going to benefit and spark his game? Or is he going to continue to be a streaky player from time to time and fly under the radar? Let us know below.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 17 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.