USHL right-shooting defenseman Jordan Schmaltz is known for his offensive skills, but people are looking for his defensive game to come 'round for him to become more than a mid-second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
He has decent size (6'2", though in need of filling out at roughly 190 lbs.) and he has some superficial biographic details familiar to Islanders prospect watchers:
He played for the Green Bay Gamblers (as did Anders Lee) and is headed to NCAA North Dakota next year (like fellow Fighting Sioux Brock Nelson and several Islanders picks who have gone the NCAA route, including two 2011 picks who have played with "Schmaltzy"). Windsor also drafted him for the OHL, but Schmaltz sounds committed to college.
An early birthday (October 1993), he excited scouts last year as a 17-year-old but his stock fell as more parts of his game were analyzed in 2011-12. He's very likely to be on the board when the Islanders pick in the second round. If you draft him, you are basically hoping his considerable offensive upside translates to the NHL and his defensive deficiencies improve to at least adequate (in NHL terms) over time. This is why teenage defensemen are hard to peg.
One area under some scrutiny for Schmaltz is his skating -- something that, if found too deficient, would make him unlike most blueline picks the Isles select. The Isles tend to draft smooth-skating defensemen, and there's some debate about how much Schmaltz's skating can improve. (In particular, see discussion of his skating strength's and weaknesses in the Hockey Prospectus link below.) Perhaps if you're just looking for a powerplay quarterback, you can overlook the defensive issues -- though there aren't many Marc-Andre Bergeon NHL jobs like that available. On the other hand, if those weaknesses are developed to come anywhere near matching his offensive instincts, look out.
Trivia: Schmaltz's younger brother Nick is a highly touted forward who joined him briefly in Green Bay and is currently a fellow North Dakota recruit.
- ISS: 46
- CSS (N.A. skaters): 34
- McKeen's: (n/r in top 30)
- The Hockey News: 34
- The Scouting Report: 46
- Craig Button (May): 58
- Hockey Prospectus: 46
- "Consensus" aggregate of several services (May): 32
Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus:
Schmaltz's technique with the puck is a fine combination of flash of smoothness, as he makes crisp, accurate outlet passes, but can also stretch the ice well, and quarterback a power play well. He is very calm and poised with the puck, showing great patience and awareness in all three zones, and he has a very high panic threshold. [...] He has the ability to be okay defensively, but he's pretty timid physically, which contributes to a fringe physical game as his frame needs a ton of work.
It wasn’t the year most were hoping for from Jordan Schmaltz, but he did finish strong as a key component of Green Bay’s USHL Clark Cup Championship team. Schmaltz had a tremendous year in 2010-11 but was never able to regain that momentum this past season. An offensive defenseman by nature, Schmaltz appeared to focus heavily on refining his defensive game which came at the expense of the skills that created the buzz around him a year ago.
The North Dakota commit has elite hands, a booming shot and superlative distribution skills. He may be one of the top powerplay quarterbacks eligible in 2012 and some have argued that his attacking-zone offensive game is near that (and perhaps equal to) surefire first-round blueliners Morgan Rielly of Moose Jaw and Derrick Pouliot of Portland.
The Hockey News (Draft Preview):
Schmaltz excels at puck control and uses his stick to defend first. He's not a physical D-man, but he knows how to break up plays at the right time. Is it fair to say scouts notice him? "He had the puck half the game," said one. "It's hard not to."
If Schmaltz goes early in the second round, you'll know some team was really enamored with his offensive skill and is willing to wait as he develops in college. If he falls to late in that round or beyond, you'll know many teams shared concerns about the other areas of his game.