Boston Team Needs
You know what's pretty unfair? In addition to having one of the NHL's best teams, the Boston Bruins also have a really good collection of young guys and prospects. This is after trading away Tyler Seguin.
Last year, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and Reilly Smith all seized permanent NHL roles, posting good point totals and possession numbers. They'll all be productive parts of that team for years.
Their prospects are also pretty good, too. Combined with their two NHL defensemen, the Bruins are very deep at center, on defense, and even in net. Alexander Khokhlachev, Malcolm Subban, Joe Morrow, and Ryan Spooner can all lay claim to an NHL Future.
With the depth in prospects the Bruins have, the strategy here is to not fill a specific need, but draft the best upside possible. So, with that in mind, the Boston Bruins will select from the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers Center Nick Schmaltz.
About Nick Schmaltz
Nick Schmaltz, like a few other players who have been taken thus far, is another guy whose skills are worthy of a higher selection than where he lands in most prospect rankings and mock drafts.
Schmaltz has a fantastic collection of offensive skills. His speed is notable, particularly his quickness and his ability to evade defenders. He can score goals, but his modus operandi is using his speed, puck skills, and playmaking to dominate possession and create offense. He's lauded for his vision, and is said to be able to find space when there isn't much, and passing opportunities when few others can.
There aren't very many great videos of Schmaltz (#18 in this video), but in this one, you can see how Schmaltz is able to control the puck with ease, using his skills to create extended time in the offensive zone and scoring opportunities.
These skills are mitigated somewhat by attitude concerns. Particularly, some people think that Schmaltz is disinterested in playing defense, something that will need to be corrected if he ever wants to make a team like Boston. But the Bruins excellent NHL roster, and solid base of prospects affords them the chance to take a chance on Schmaltz at this point in the first round.
Where Does He Fit With the Wild?
I think there's a place for Nick Schmaltz, who is projected to eventually play Right Wing, in the Wild's system. You'd be surprised to find that the Wild don't have a lot of playmakers in their prospect ranks. Zack Phillips comes closest, but his lack of speed and production in the AHL leads one to question whether he will ever land a regular spot in the NHL. Speed isn't going to be a question with Schmaltz, and elite speed is something else that's missing from the Wild's forward prospects.
Another thing that makes Schmaltz an interesting fit is that he'll be attending UND to play college hockey. In recent drafts, the Wild have been favoring college prospects. The Wild have done this in part because drafting longer-term projects helps avoid having a glut of NHL-ready prospects all coming up at the same time. With some luck, this strategy could create good timing, as players like Gustav Olofsson, Mario Lucia, and John Draeger could be close to NHL-ready around the time the Wild have to start making tough decisions as to which young players fit the long-term plans of the team, and which don't.
Another fun fact: Schmaltz and Gustav Olofsson were both Green Bay Gamblers in Olofsson's draft year. Maybe the Wild could be swayed one way or the other by Olofsson's inside scoop on the Schmaltz. Just a little something to keep in mind.
18 isn't the place to draft Schmaltz, though. Guys like Ho-Sang, Barbashev, and Pastrnak were available to them at 18 in this mock draft, and they've got a comparable amount of skill level and better probability to make the NHL than Schmaltz. But if the Wild want to trade back to the end of the first round in an attempt to obtain more picks, they could certainly do worse than obtaining Nick Schmaltz.