The St. Louis Blues are in the final stretch of the season. Only 20 games remain but for one player, the race for the playoffs has a special meaning. Jordan Schmaltz looks to be getting his first crack at NHL action. The 2012 first round draft pick has been waiting for his opportunity a long time. Having spent three seasons at the University of North Dakota, Schmaltz is now in his second season with the Chicago Wolves.
Having missed the first part of the season with an upper body injury, the Wisconsin native has racked up 25 points in 42 games. The season prior Schmaltz put up 36 points in 71 games for the Wolves. The vast majority of his totals comes from assists, so you won’t see Schmaltz getting the game winning goal often. But he’s more then willing to join the rush which is something most NHL teams expect at this point from their defenseman.
Why has it taken so long for Schmaltz to get an opportunity? Well the answer to that question a very easy one. There’s been so much depth on the right side which has been discussed to death at this point. With Kevin Shattenkirk being shipped off to the Washington Capitals the opportunity for Schmaltz to shine is there for the taking.
But there are still hurdles for Schmaltz to get by before he’s in the conversation of starting on a consistent basis. One of them being the musical chairs game Mike Yeo has been playing with Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson. Throwing in a third player into the mix creates that much more competition, and it doesn't help that the Blues are ever so close to falling out of a wild card spot. Just how many chances will the Blues take at this stage of the season?
Whether the Blues make the playoffs or not Schmaltz still holds his AHL status and that ensures he will see post season play, barring a monumental collapse. So while there is some pressure for Schmaltz to succeed, this should been treated like more of an learning experience. We really have no clue how things will shake out this summer for the Blues. Who really knows what players the Golden Knights will take in the expansion draft. But what we do know is young kids like Schmaltz will be here next season and many years to come. So instead of expecting greatness on the first shift, how about we give him time to breathe. Because the future is more fun to talk about then the present.