The Calgary Flames’ offseason has already been extremely interesting with the departures of Brad Treliving and Darryl Sutter in exchange for Craig Conroy, Dave Nonis, and a yet-to-be-named coach. Before that even gets started, it’s important to note that the Flames are already capped out, with the new contracts for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and Daniel Vladar kicking in this summer. So, the Flames would have to move bodies out before bringing others in. With the disappointment of this past season, a new GM in place, and the uncertainty of many Flames players past the 2023–24 season, we can expect some changes.
With that said, there are some players the Flames can still look to made trades for, who can one, helps alleviate the cap space issues, and two, make the team better. One such player is Nick Schmaltz.
Who is Nick Schmaltz?
The 27-year-old Wisconsin product can play both centre and right wing. He is right-handed, which is obviously an area of need for the Flames. Nick Schmaltz was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. He spent his first two and a half seasons in Chicago, before being sent to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini in a midseason trade back in 2018–19. He has spent the past four and a half seasons with the Coyotes. In his 427-game career, Schmaltz has amassed 100 goals and 199 assists for 299 points. Schmaltz has been close to a point-per-game player over the last two seasons.
Schmaltz is a very strong skater who also has fantastic playmaking ability and that fits the bill for what the Flames need.
Starting July 1, Schmaltz has a 10-team no-trade list that kicks in. So, odds are he’s moved before the draft, so the Coyotes can recoup draft capital for this year’s draft and not have to work with limited options.
The biggest reason why Arizona might be destined to trade Schmaltz? His contract. There’s a reason why he was in trade rumours around the deadline.
Schmaltz signed a seven-year, $5.85M AAV contract extension with the Coyotes which began in 2019–20. This contract is extremely backloaded. While his cap hit is only $5.85M in the last three years of his contract, he is owed $7.5M, $8.45M, and $8.5M in total salary in each of the final three seasons, respectively. For a team like the Coyotes—who are cheap to put it nicely—this seems like a major issue. In acquiring Jakub Voracek and Shea Weber’s contracts near the trade deadline last year, the Coyotes have the wiggle room necessary to deal a player like Schmaltz and still remain in the threshold on the minimum cap required to spend.
A deeper look into Nick Schmaltz’s game
Below are some of Schmaltz’s stats at 5v5, score- and venue-adjusted, as per NaturalStatTrick.com.
|2022–23 metrics (5v5 SVA)||CF%||SCF%||HDCF%||xGF%|
|Arizona Coyotes average||43.82%||43.55%||42.64%||43.46%|
The Coyotes averaged quite low across the board—as expected for a rebuilding team. However, Schmaltz is roughly 4–6% higher in each category, showcasing the positive effects he had playing for the Coyotes this season. It’s very hard to have even average metrics on the Coyotes in recent years, so this is a major positive.
Looking at his Isolated 5v5 Impact (courtesy of HockeyViz.com), we can see the transformation Schmaltz has gone through. His first four seasons weren’t great, but he has really taken off in the last three years. His offence over the past three years sits at +14%, +10.4%, and +6.4%, respectively. There is a ton of shot quality in prime quality areas of the ice, especially at the net-front. His defence isn’t perfect, but it’s still above-average for the league, which is all you can ask when a player is contributing so well offensively.
Lengthy injury history
The main major concern in acquiring Schmaltz? He has a lengthy injury history. He has never played a full season. In fact, he’s only gotten close once, when he played 78 games in 2017–18. In the seasons following, he’s played 40, 70, 52, 63, and 63 games respectively. This is a major concern for the acquiring party.
The rundown on Schmaltz
Whether this trade can be digestible for both teams is yet to be known, but it would be good for the Flames to explore Schmaltz as an option before or at the draft. He’s the right age entering his prime years, and he’s a known entity without too many years on his current contract. If the Flames are doing their homework and addressing their areas of need, Schmaltz should be high up on their list.
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