Nick Schmaltz Traded to Coyotes; Blackhawks Land Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 23:  Nick Schmaltz #8 of the Chicago Blackhawks looks to pass against the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on October 23, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Ducks 3-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks traded Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini, the team announced Sunday.

Schmaltz has appeared in 23 games this season, scoring two goals and assisting on nine more. Both Strome (three goals, three assists) and Perlini (two goals, four assists) have accounted for six points this year.

The Athletic's Mark Lazerus noted how the perception around Schmaltz's role in the Blackhawks' future has drastically changed in the last few years.

Mark Lazerus @MarkLazerus

Not too long ago, Nick Schmaltz was the anointed No. 1 center of the future for the Blackhawks, who were squirreling away cap space in order to give him a big contract extension. Now he's a Coyote, along with Hjalmarsson, Hinostroza, Panik, Raanta, Oesterle, Hossa and Bolland.

The 22-year-old is a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season. The Athletic's Scott Powers brought up the subject of Schmaltz's potential extension with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. Bowman didn't identify the matter as a top priority at the moment:

"But as far as his contract goes, I'm not that worried about that whether it's going to be a shorter term or a longer term. We'll figure that out as time comes. But I think the most important thing is for Nick to get his confidence. I've seen signs of it lately where he's had the puck more, he's making some plays. Like to see him shoot the puck and he's heard that a million times. That's a work in progress. His contract isn't like a top-of-mind issue right now. We're not up against the cap, so it's not really like a problem point."

Although Schmaltz is struggling this season, he's a year removed from scoring 21 goals, third-highest on the team. Because of that, dealing him now—even with contract negotiations looming in the offseason—is a risky move for Chicago.

Strome could ultimately vindicate Bowman for this gamble, though.

The 21-year-old was the third overall pick in the 2015 draft behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. The fact that McDavid and Eichel already have All-Star appearances on their resumes had added to the disappointment of Strome's start to his NHL career.

In October, ESPN.com's Chris Peters compared Strome favorably to 12-year veteran Bobby Ryan. Ryan was the guy picked after Sidney Crosby, which didn't make things easy. Then he had a forgettable rookie season with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007-08 before becoming a consistent offensive contributor.

Strome still has plenty of time to put it all together, and by going to Chicago, he reunites with Alex DeBrincat. The two spent three seasons together with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League.

Perlini is much like Strome in that he has failed to reach the expectations the Coyotes set for him when they selected him 12th overall in 2014.

But he had 21 points in 57 games as a rookie and 30 points in 74 games last season. It's not hard to see why the Blackhawks thought Perlini was worth acquiring.