Nick Schmaltz only played in 17 games for the Arizona Coyotes this season, following a November trade from the Chicago Blackhawks and prior to a season-ending lower-body injury. However, the 14 points he recorded in those 17 games certainly made an impression on the ’Yotes front office. The team has signed the young center to a long-term extension, reports The Athletic’s Craig Morgan. The Coyotes have confirmed the signing. Morgan adds that the breakdown of the deal, which carries a $5.85MM AAV and is considerably backloaded, is as follows:
2019-20: $2.5MM base salary, $500K signing bonus
2020-21: $3MM base salary
2021-22: $5MM base salary, $1MM signing bonus
2022-23: $4.5MM base salary
2023-24: $7.5MM base salary
2024-25: $6.95MM base salary, $1.5MM signing bonus
2025-26: $7MM base salary, $1.5MM signing bonus
The deal also carries a ten-team no-trade clause in the final three years.
Schmaltz, 23, has three years of NHL experience to his credit already, but was working on a breakout campaign after the move to Arizona. A first-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2014 out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Schmaltz starred for the University of North Dakota for two years before turning pro. His rookie year was split between the NHL and AHL, but he still manged to record 28 points in 61 games. However, it was his sophomore season when Schmaltz began turning heads. He compiled 52 points in 78 games for Chicago, playing much of the season as the team’s second-line center. Yet, the team still decided to move on from Schmaltz even after another strong start this season, swapping him for young Coyotes forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini. The Blackhawks likely have no regrets about the deal, but Arizona is happy to have a new core forward, as evidenced by the extension. Schmaltz had 25 points in 40 games prior to his injury, but if he had continued his scoring pace after landing in the desert, Schmaltz would have been a 60-point player this season.
The Coyotes certainly hope that the young pivot can rebound from his injury and get back to that scoring trajectory next season. Arizona is pushing for a playoff spot this season, but is still a ways away from being a true contender. Schmaltz’ continued development will play a major role in the team’s ongoing pursuit of consistent success. A poised play-maker, Schmaltz has the potential to grow into the team’s No. 1 center and power play quarterback. That is certainly the expectation, as the extension makes Schmaltz the team’s third-highest paid player heading into next season. GM John Chayka said of Schmaltz that “Nick is a highly skilled, creative, young center with extremely high upside. Getting Nick signed to a long-term extension is another positive step towards building a sustainable contender here in the Valley.” Even if Schmaltz never exceeds the 50-60 point range, this is still a good signing for the Coyotes, who needed another trusted forward and now have one for the next seven years in the intelligent and confident center. The only concern with the term will be if nagging injuries slow Schmaltz down over the course of the contract.
For his part, Schmaltz is not worried about injuries and is only looking forward to the years ahead of him in Arizona. The team press release quoted Schmaltz as saying “I’m very excited to sign a long-term contract with the Coyotes. We have a great core of young, talented players in Arizona and I’m looking forward to coming back healthy next season and contributing for many years to come. We have a very bright future here and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” That is exactly what ’Yotes fans want to hear from a player that is now in for the long-haul, expected to be a star and leader for years to come.