Blackhawks

Nerves may have affected Blackhawks' Nick Schmaltz in Game 1

Nerves may have affected Blackhawks' Nick Schmaltz in Game 1

Nick Schmaltz said on Tuesday that he knew his first NHL postseason was going to be different than when he won a national championship at North Dakota.

The intensity, the speed, everything is that much greater. Schmaltz may have been caught up in that somewhat in Game 1, during which he was bumped off the top line. He played better down the stretch and knows he has to be sharper from the start on Saturday.

"I thought I was OK. I thought I could have held onto the puck a little bit more. I don't know if I was nervous or what I was, but just felt like I was just getting rid of the puck when I had it," Schmaltz said. "That's not what I'm accustomed to, so hopefully I can learn from that and bounce back in this game here."

On Friday, Schmaltz was on the Blackhawks' third line in practice, as it looks like they'll make some switches/changes. Ryan Hartman could be on the top line. Coach Joel Quenneville said he liked how Schmaltz finished on Thursday and still expects the rookie to be a big part of the playoffs moving forward.

"One game's not a long time and he's had different line mates all year long. But no matter who he's playing with we need his skill, speed and two-way play," Quenneville said. "That's what we're looking for no matter who he plays with because it can enhance his line."

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When Schmaltz was sent to Rockford during the regular season he took the message the right way, responded and improved his game. The stage is bigger now, but Schmaltz has to respond the same way off Thursday's so-so postseason debut.

"Maybe a little bit [disappointed being taken off the top line], but whoever I'm playing with, I'm happy with," he said. "A lot of great players on this team. We got guys who can play wherever, so wherever I'm put in the lineup, I'm just going to try to work my hardest and do my best."

BRIEFLY

• Marian Hossa did not skate on Friday but it was just a maintenance day. He's expected to play in Game 2. Tomas Jurco skated in his third-line place at Friday's practice. 

• Dennis Rasmussen was skating on the Blackhawks' fourth line at practice. If that stands on Saturday, it appears John Hayden will be out for Game 2.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.