The list is far too long, but it feels like Nick Schmaltz is the one first-rounder the Hawks chucked that no one kicks too much dust up about. His meaning is that he’s on the list, and how that list seems to be ever expanding.
Maybe it’s because Schmaltz’s big season as a Hawks was in a lost campaign. That was the year where Corey Crawford got hurt, the backups were simply awful, and the Hawks were severely up the track in the standings. So Schmaltz’s 50+ points were lost in the wash, and the most emotion anyone could kick up about it was, “Yeah, but who gives a shit?” Even having Patrick Kane take a shine to him wasn’t enough to save him.
If Schmaltz’s trade angered anyone, it was because of the billing the organization gave him before last season, which really wasn’t fair. Stan Bowman made no secret of wanting to keep cap space open for an extension, even though Schmaltz had only had one productive season for a team that went nowhere. Rumors of trades for Justin Faulk were supposedly turned down because Schmaltz was the asking price, but who knows for sure?
It was clearly the kind of pressure that Schmaltz couldn’t live under, which wasn’t a terribly good sign either. He quickly played himself out of the center and to a wing under Joel Quenneville, and he wasn’t much of a wing. Eddie Olczyk even was quick to point out battles or hits that Schmaltz bailed out of, which was the rare off-message moment for him. With Q’s job on the line, with a hope of a return to the playoffs, and his own contract to play for, Schmaltz simply shrank from the challenge.
Schmaltz’s season ended prematurely with a knee injury, but Arizona saw enough to put his mind at ease after 17 games with a seven-year extension. They seem to be getting a bang for their $5.9M bucks with 22 points in 33 games so far. We’ll see if any of them matter come springtime.
For the Hawks, Schmaltz just represents their utter failure in the draft since Stan Bowman took over. That’s putting it harshly, has he has taken a number of good players. It’s just that none of them have been able to make an impact for the Hawks themselves, except for Teuvo and perhaps Boqvist and Dach now. It’s truly horrifying to see that David Pastrnak was taken after Schmaltz.
You probably know the list now, but Stan’s first-rounders and what they’ve done for the Hawks:
Kevin Hayes never signed.
Mark McNeil never played in the NHL.
Teuvo was an important cog in the last Cup winner, and then had to be a make-weight to get rid of Bryan Bickell.
Phillip Danault looked really useful for half a season, and then was swapped for Quenneville’s fetish for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, both of whom he hated after five minutes.
Ryan Hartman never became Andrew Shaw.
Schmaltz became Dylan Strome.
So even in all the trades, really all the Hawks got out of their best picks was a season and a half of Teuvo and Dylan Strome. You want to know why they are where they are, and there you go. If you expand it to all of Stan’s picks who have made a serious impact, it’s just Saad and Shaw. It’s not enough.
None of that is Schmaltz’s fault. Both the Coyotes and Hawks are happy with the Schmaltz-Strome swap. Everything that you draw for Schmaltz and his time and ending with the Hawks doesn’t really have much to do with the player himself.