Nick Schmaltz is a little more familiar with the drill this offseason.
He knows what to expect, knows what strides he made in his game during his first year in college and how he can try to improve this week. And the competition is there, even if it’s the offseason.
“It’s a lot different paying in the summer,” Schmaltz said. “Guys aren’t in midseason shape, but it’s still fast.”
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Schmaltz, who was selected 20th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2014 NHL Draft, is participating in his second Blackhawks prospect camp this week. For the 19-year-old forward, these few days are an opportunity to see how far he’s come since his first camp last summer.
“I’m going to really push myself and try to get better this week,” he said. “There’s a lot of great staff out there and guys who want to help everyone get better. I’ll try to use them and try to compete as well as I can, day in and day out.”
Outside of a minor wrist injury that cost him a few games, Schmaltz had a good freshman season at the University of North Dakota. He recorded five goals and 21 assists in 38 games. Schmaltz said he’s felt the difference in his game from where he started to where he is now.
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“I got stronger on pucks and just stronger in my legs,” Schmaltz said. “It’s being able to outwork guys and out-battle them, where as last year I was a lot weaker. I’m just excited to get back to North Dakota and improve my game.”
Prospect camp has been good the second time around for Schmaltz, who will return to North Dakota this fall. He’s happy with the progress he’s made to this point but he knows there’s still much to learn.
“I thought I developed in some areas of my game that I needed to. I got a little stronger,” Schmaltz said. “So I think going back I just have to keep pushing myself to get better in all aspects of my game if I want to get back to the next level.”