Friday, June 22, 2012

Blues go defense in first round

USHL's Jordan Schmaltz taken with 25th pick; team has seven more picks today

There were players left on the board late in the first round that were projected to go higher. The Blues ignored all the pundits and went with a project they had their eye on.

The Blues selected a player that will not offer immediate help, but on they feel will be a household name in the future, as they went with 18-year-old defenseman Jordan Schmaltz of the United States Hockey League with the 25th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft Friday night at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The 6-foot-2, 189-pound Madison, Wisc. native, who will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall, split the 2011-12 season between the Sioux City Musketeers and Green Bay Gamblers, ranking second among USHL defensemen with 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists) in 55 games.
(Getty Images)
Blues' 2012 first round pick Jordan Schmaltz slips on his new
sweater as director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong looks on
Friday night.

Schmaltz played 46 of those games for Green Bay, leading the team’s defensemen in assists, points and power-play goals. He added seven points (two goals, five assists) and had a plus-10 rating in 12 playoff games for the Clark Cup Champions.

Projected as a late first rounder, early to middle second rounder, Schmaltz was thrilled to hear his name called.

"It's awesome. I can't really describe it," said Schmaltz, who patterns his game to Phoenix's Keith Yandle and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty and was the 34th-ranked North American skater according to the Central Scouting Service. "It's just a great feeling. Just to hear your name called is pretty surreal. I'm excited and it's awesome."

A puck-moving defenseman with offensive skill, the Blues are projecting Schmaltz to be a key piece of their future ... and they project him to be high on the charts as well.

"The one thing that we really love about the kid is he's a top-four defenseman," said Bill Armstrong, the Blues' amateur director of scouting. "He's got some high-end skill on the power play. That was probably one of the strongest things that we liked about him, that he can run a power play from up top. He's got some great qualities to move the puck …really sees the ice well and he has the ability to jump up."

The NHL's Central Scouting Report said: "This is the type of player everybody wants on their team because he's a puck-moving offensive defenseman who can see opportunities, spring forward and make the great pass from any situation. He loves to join in the rush and has that skating ability to sort of take the risk of taking the puck deep, and being able to get back using his skating ability."

Schmaltz agreed.

"I think I'm an offensive defenseman," he said. "I can quarterback a power play. I use my mind and I think my hockey sense is pretty good as well."

Schmaltz, who said he didn't really know if the Blues were interested or not after meeting with them, will attend the University of North Dakota, where the Blues' T.J. Oshie and Chris Porter crafted their respective arts, as well as Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews.

"It's the best path for me and it's going to help me develop," said Schmaltz, who comes from a football family, with father Mike playing football for the Fighting Sioux as well as two of his uncles. Younger brother Nick will play for the Fighting Sioux in 2014.
(USHL Photo)
The Blues made Jordan Schmaltz the 25th pick in the
NHL Draft Friday night in Pittsburgh

And on a night where defenseman were key targets for the 30 picks on the first round, the Blues saw one they really were impressed with.

"We targeted him down the stretch," said Armstrong, who will help the Blues through a second, two thirds, a fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh round picks today. "You draw up a plan, you do your homework and you hope it works. It’s a credit to our staff. They really did the research and that’s one of the guys we targeted … we really wanted him."

Now Schmaltz, who grew up a Blackhawks fan and lists Patrick Kane as his favorite player, will work on winning over Blues' fans.

"That'll change quick, I guess," Schmaltz laughed.

Other notable players the Blues selected around this spot in the draft include T.J. Oshie at No. 24 in 2005, Patrik Berglund at No. 25 in 2006 and David Perron at No. 26 in 2007.

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