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Chicago Blackhawks pick UND’s Schmaltz

PHILADELPHIA – Stan Bowman spent a bunch of time on the phone Friday night.

As the first round of the NHL Draft progressed, the Chicago Blackhawks general manager wanted to find a way to trade up and take a player they’ve been eyeing since August.

“It worked out with San Jose,” he said. “We were fortunate that we were able to move up seven spots.”

The prospect that the Blackhawks coveted and eventually picked was Nick Schmaltz – the skilled forward who will play at UND this fall.

Schmaltz went No. 20 overall, becoming UND’s 10th first-round pick in the last 12 years. Others in that club include players such as his brother, Jordan, and NHL captains/alternates Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford, T.J. Oshie and Chicago star Jonathan Toews.

Bowman was pleased that Schmaltz will be taking the same development route as his captain.

“It worked out pretty good for Jonathan Toews,” Bowman said of playing at UND. “They’ve been a great college program for a while. Being in that conference and playing against top teams, he’s going to learn quickly to adjust to that. He’ll be playing against men. I think that’s great. It’s going to give him a chance to face top competition and we’re excited for that.”

The Blackhawks weren’t the only ones who were excited about the pick. Schmaltz grew up a Blackhawks fan, living a couple hours away in Verona, Wis. He attended two Hawks playoff games this season and also played minor hockey for the Chicago Mission program for five years.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Schmaltz said. “I thought that if I didn’t go before 27 (overall), they would take me for sure. When they traded up, I thought I had a chance. “It’s a perfect fit for me.”

After being picked, Schmaltz answered questions from the Chicago media.

Where are you playing next year?

“North Dakota,” Schmaltz said.

Growing up a Chicago fan, did you have Blackhawks posters on your wall growing up?

“Kind of. I have a North Dakota Sioux head painted on my wall.”

What’s your timeline at North Dakota?

“Two or three years at North Dakota, but if it takes four, I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever it takes,” he said.

Schmaltz is expected to play a big role for UND this season as a skilled forward who can help the team offensively.