The Chicago Blackhawks recalled forward Nick Schmaltz from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Saturday. The team announced the move in the late afternoon after Artem Anisimov missed practice due to illness.
It’s unclear whether Anisimov will play Sunday against the Minnesota Wild yet, but the promotion of Schmaltz helps solidify the Hawks’ depth up the middle either way. With Marcus Kruger also sidelined, the team would’ve been painfully thin at center for a crucial division game had it stood pat and lost Anisimov, too.
Schmaltz, a 2014 first-round pick, recorded six goals and three assists in 12 games with the IceHogs after being reassigned there in early December. He began the season in the NHL, but struggled to produce before the team decided to let him polish his game a bit in the AHL.
In 26 NHL games, Schmaltz has recorded one goal, three assists, and just 16 shots on goal. The last number is particularly discouraging, as you’d want to see a talented offensive player like Schmaltz attack the net more often. Even if he qualifies more as a playmaker than a finisher, averaging 0.62 shots on goal per contest doesn’t cut it.
That’s one area where Schmaltz looked noticeably better in the AHL. You have to wonder if the team specifically told him to start looking for his own shot more often. He took 32 shots on goal in 12 games — 2.67 shots per game — during his time with the IceHogs.
So it seems like this promotion with a little of two things. First, the Hawks straight up needed another body on hand just in case Anisimov isn’t ready to go Sunday. Second, the Hawks sent Schmaltz down to build some confidence as a scorer, and he did that in a small sample. With the need to call up someone up, and the primary alternatives being Mark McNeill and Martin Lundberg, he’s back in the fold.