One player that needs to step up for the Arizona Coyotes in 2019-20

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 18: Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) looks on during the NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Arizona Coyotes on December 18, 2018 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 18: Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) looks on during the NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Arizona Coyotes on December 18, 2018 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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It’s not very fair to say that the fate of an NHL franchise is in the hands of one individual player, but it kind of feels like that in Arizona. Arizona has only drafted in the top 3 once since 2007, and with that pick they drafted Dylan Strome.

Dylan Strome never really found a home in Arizona. He was not really utilized and the players he played with did not give him the best opportunity to succeed. In November of last year, John Chayka traded Strome and Brendan Perlini to the Chicago Blackhawks for Nick Schmaltz. It instantly looked like a win for the ‘Yotes.

NHL Standard career statistics
ScoringGoalsAssistsShotsIce Time
SeasonAgeTmLgGPGAPTS+/-PIMEVPPSHGWEVPPSHSS%TSATOIATOIFOWFOLFO%BLKHITTKGVAwards
2016-1720CHINHL616222810660002020669.112780913:168418830.927204622Byng-45
2017-1821CHINHL7821315211817402209211817.8218142218:1432148040.139138631
2018-1922CHINHL232911-461100900336.16140717:41526843.3752315
2018-1922ARINHL175914-8214026302917.26130618:015210932.3501210
3 yrsCHINHL162296291730245024911221713.4406263816:1745773638.3733815568
1 yrARINHL175914-8214026302917.26130618:015210932.3501210
Career3 yrsNHL1793471105-132259045514224613.8467294416:2750984537.6783816778

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/2/2019.

By the time Schmaltz came to Arizona he had already played in over 100 NHL games, and had proven himself to be a top 6 forward. Schmaltz’s biggest weakness was his inability to shoot the puck. He would rather make a pass than shoot, and honestly if I was playing on a line with Patrick Kane I would probably be doing the same thing.

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It might be a little over dramatic or premature to say the fate of a franchise depends on one player that only played 17 games with the team. However the Coyotes gave Schmaltz a 7 year contract for about 5.85 million a year. Schmaltz is one of three players signed all the way through 2025-26. The other players are Clayton Keller, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The Coyotes are expecting to implement Nick Schmaltz into their core group of players going forward. He will need to take a step forward this year, that means playing big time minutes with big time players. Schmaltz had this to say about joining the Coyotes.

It looks as though Schmaltz will play on the second line with Christian Dvorak according to Dailyfaceoff. But that does not mean he wont see time on the power play. I think for Schmaltz development he needs to play top minutes. The big reason Dylan Strome did not succeed with the Coyotes was he did not really get much of an opportunity. Schmaltz needs to play 19 to 20 minutes a night in different situations to learn. He also needs to increase his face-off percentage if he plans to take any draws in the dot. Schmaltz had a 32.3% in the dot last year with the Coyotes.

The season starts tonight! Go ‘Yotes! Let’s wait and see if Schmaltz and the other Coyotes can step up to the plate this season and make the playoffs.

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