North Dakota's Jordan Schmaltz signed a three-year contract with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, marking the first departure from the program since head coach Dave Hakstol left for the same position with the Philadelphia Flyers on May 18.
Schmaltz, who scored 28 points in 42 games, gave up his final year of college eligibility to sign with the club that drafted him in first round in 2012. He is the older brother of the Chicago Blackhawks' first-round pick (20th overall) in 2014, Nick Schmaltz.
The younger Schmaltz tallied five goals and 21 assists in 38 games during his freshman season for UND. His 26 points ranked fourth on the team, and third among UND forwards.
Another Hawks prospect, Luke Johnson -- a fifth-round pick (134th overall) in 2013 -- is also on the UND roster. Johnson recorded 11 goals last season, and has posted 45 points in 84 games over two seasons.
Jordan told The Grand Forks Herald the coaching change at UND, which saw assistant coach Brad Berry take over the program, had nothing to do with his decision.
"I would have loved to play for Bubs (Berry), but it's time for me to take the step," he said. "Me and Bubba are really tight. We've been communicating through this whole thing."
With things changing at North Dkakota, what happens if Nick and Johnson decide to follow in Jordan's footsteps and leave the program?
According to the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, "the drafting club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft."
Nick and Johnson went directly to UND after they were drafted, meaning the Hawks would continue to own their rights for three and two years, respectively, if they decide to leave UND.
SB Nation College Hockey has Nick as the 10th-best NHL prospect.
"A first round draft choice of the Blackhawks last summer, Schmaltz has smooth hands and excellent vision which has made him a reliable playmaker in his first season. He hasn't had as much success putting the puck in the net, but that should improve as he matures physically. His defensive play is still a work in progress, but has shown positive progression this year. Schmaltz has the talent to be a scorer at the pro level, but still needs time to reach that potential."
Johnson is also ranked in the top 100 at No. 83.
"Johnson is still playing a secondary scoring role for North Dakota in his sophomore season behind some older players. But he's been effective in the role he's asked to play, and with another year of physical maturity, and more ice time next season, he's poised to make another jump in production. Johnson is a nice skater that is good defensively with a strong stick and an above average wrist shot."
Neither Schmaltz or Johnson has indicated their long-term plans yet, but it's possible this impacts the timeline for when the Blackhawks pursue entry-level deals with both guys.
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