For the second straight year, Blackhawks prospect Nick Schmaltz will represent Team USA in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, USA Hockey announced Wednesday. The 22-player roster consists of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.
Schmaltz, 19, registered one assist in five tournament outings last year with Team USA, which finished fifth overall, but he's expected to take on a larger role this time around and he's already showing he may be ready for it.
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The Blackhawks' 2014 first-round pick (20th overall) has compiled 26 points (three goals and 23 assists) in 20 games for the University of North Dakota so far this season, matching last year's point total in 18 fewer games. He also boasts a plus-29 rating, which leads the NCAA, while his 23 assists (tied for first) and 26 points (tied for fourth) rank among the tops as well.
In November, Schmaltz was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Player of the Month after collecting 15 points (two goals and 13 assists) and a plus-14 rating in eight games, leading the nation in primary assists (seven), even-strength assists (10), and game-winning assists (four).
The 2016 WJC runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2016 in Helsinki, Finland. Team USA will begin play on Saturday against Canada at 12 p.m. CT on NHL Network.