Chicago Blackhawks trade Schmaltz to Arizona
Apparently, nothing is off the table when it comes to the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
Three weeks after firing Joel Quenneville as coach, general manager Stan Bowman traded Nick Schmaltz to Arizona for center Dylan Strome and forward Brendan Perlini.
Strome, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, and Alex DeBrincat were teammates for two seasons in juniors on the Erie Otters. The 21-year-old Ontario native has 3 goals and 3 assists in 19 games this season for the Coyotes. He scored 22 goals in 50 games for the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners last season and added 4 goals in 21 games for Arizona.
Strome is Erie's all-time leading scorer with 354 points between 2013-17. He led the OHL in scoring with 129 points (45G, 84A) in 2014-15.
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Perlini averaged 15.5 goals the last two seasons for Arizona but has just 2 goals in 21 games this year. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Strome and Perlini both carry $863,333 cap hits. Perlini will be a restricted free agent after this season, while Strome will be an RFA after next season.
Schmaltz, who will be an RFA after this season, was supposed to be part of the Blackhawks' future for years to come. But after scoring 21 goals and adding 31 assists in 78 games in 2017-18, the Wisconsin native has been extremely inconsistent this season (2G, 9A).
Schmaltz often showed an unwillingness to take a hit or to play in the "dirty areas" of the ice. He also preferred to defer to his teammates -- often trying to thread the needle with low-percentage passes -- instead of simply putting the puck on net. He had just 33 shots on goal in 23 games.
"(I need to) keep putting it in my head that I've got a pretty good shot and I don't use it enough," Schmaltz said Oct. 22. "Just got to keep firing 'em and hopefully they keep falling."
That didn't happen, and then-coach Joel Quenneville scratched Schmaltz at Edmonton 10 days later.
"Performance-based. Expectations," Quenneville told reporters. "And you know, I just think that we need him to be an important player for us."
Schmaltz has always displayed impressive speed and elusiveness, and it will be interesting to see if a change of scenery does him good.
As for Strome, it would shock no one if he finds himself centering a line with DeBrincat and Dominik Kahun when the Hawks host Vegas on Tuesday. Strome has won an impressive 58.2 percent of his faceoffs and owns a 52.8 Corsi rating.
The Hawks are scheduled to practice at MB Ice Arena at 11 a.m. on Monday.