With the need for the Canadiens to acquire more elite talent to compete with the top teams, I would argue that in the terms of risk-reward selections, Nick Schmaltz is a serious candidate to be selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.
His skill level is arguably at the very top of this year's draft class and offers great potential, which would be a welcome addition to a team that is still short of high-end offensive prospects as they attempt to take the next step towards being a Stanley Cup Contender.
What has kept Schmaltz's status from rising higher in the draft has been questions around his consistency in most of the areas of his game and no significant growth from his 16-year old season in the USL.
He is rated as a high-end skater, with great speed and acceleration that lets him outpace his opposition. His stick skills are considered very impressive, with a variety of creative moves to confound his opponents and allow him to control the puck in traffic.
He possesses a strong shot and excellent passing abilities, that coupled with exceptional vision allow him to be a multidimensional threat in the offensive zone. Issues around him tend to centre on his efforts as a 200-foot player and his willingness to engage in the physical side of the game, some noting he will choose to avoid contact at times.
"One of the biggest enigmas in the draft, highly skilled Nick Schmaltz has the talent to be one of the highest picks in the draft, but his consistency, attitude and inability to perform in the playoffs for Green Bay will force him to fall. Schmaltz is an explosive skater, who at times will appear to be going at 0 MPH, and then all of a sudden, he’ll dart up the ice and get into loose space. He has quick feet and strong acceleration both with and without the puck."
"Enjoyed International success this season first suiting up for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial where he finished second in tournament scoring (5-5-3-8) .. he followed up that performance with a gold medal effort at the World Junior A challenge setting a tournament record for most points (4-4-8-12) breaking Kyle Turris record of 11 .. a highly creative and offensive minded player with sharp instincts and a supernatural ability to stick handle and distribute the puck."
"The younger brother of Jordan, drafted by the St. Louis Blues 25th overall in the 2012, Nick very well might be one of the most talented player in the entire draft. He represented Team USA at both the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the World Junior A Challenge this season, netting eight points in five games and 12 points in four games, respectively. Nick's skill level is truly elite. He does everything at top speed. "
Future Considerations: 42
Hockey Prospect: 28
McKeen's Hockey: 30
Craig Button :24
Average Ranking: 29.6
This is a classic case of valuing the reward over the risk, of course issues of shying away from physical play and lacking a consistent game-to-game effort are concerning, but it is difficult to ignore this level of talent available when your team doesn't possess a very high pick.
The Canadiens have not often taken large chances in the 1st round and the management has often spoke long and often about the need for 'character' to build the team, as vague a term as that can be.
On the other hand, Brandon Saad, the rising star in the Blackhawks organization was under similar scrutiny into his draft year before Chicago acquired him in the 2011 NHL Draft when Marc Bergevin was part of their organization and watching his former team in action, one would think he can appreciate to a degree the value in taking a risk on a talented player with such abilities even if there are question marks around his commitment level.
In my view, Schmaltz should be a top choice for the Canadiens if he is available as there will not be many high-end talents available at this stage of the draft. Their need for a potential game-breaker up front in addition to the potential of Alex Galchenyuk should factor into their valuation of who is their best option.