With the Arizona Coyotes’ 2022-23 season now in the rearview mirror, arizonacoyotes.com is reviewing some of the year’s major storylines. The eighth part of the series takes a look at Nick Schmaltz‘s season and the strong chemistry he has built with his teammates.
Nick Schmaltz checked off milestone after milestone with the Arizona Coyotes last season.
The 27-year-old forward followed up his 59-point 2021-22 season with 58 points in 2022-23, demonstrating a level of comfort and consistency on the team’s top line, alongside Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton.
Even as a natural center, Schmaltz’s chemistry with his linemates while on the wing was easy to see. Just this past season, in fact, he recorded his first-career hat trick against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 26, and also hit the 100-goal plateau after notching a goal and an assist against the Vancouver Canucks in Arizona’s final game of the season.
The consistent production from the top line is something that gives him the confidence to match up against anything the opposition can throw his way.
“The last couple of years, playing with the same guys for the most part, we’ve developed a lot of chemistry,” Schmaltz said. “I feel like we can play with anyone in the league. We’re very confident, so hopefully we can take that next step, be an impact line every night, and be the leaders of this team.”
Keller and Schmaltz ranked first and second in team points, respectively, and demonstrated an uncanny ability to find each other on the ice when it mattered most. Schmaltz, who was drafted 20th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014 NHL Draft, said he was pleased with the team’s overall play at even strength, but would like to see the power play take a step forward next season.
The Coyotes progressed year-over-year with the man advantage, finishing 24th overall with an 18.91 percent success rate in 2022-23, marking a five percent improvement over 2021-22, in which the team ranked 30th in the league.
“You look at our production, a lot of it is 5-on-5, and it’s not easy to do,” Schmaltz said. “If we can take that and dial in the power play a little bit and generate more there, it’s only going to help our team and add to our production a lot.”
The Madison, Wisc. native has seemingly found his stride with the Coyotes and was a huge part of Arizona’s success at Mullett Arena last season. The team enjoyed its best home record since 2015-16, and Schmaltz said the environment may have “stunned some teams coming in.”
He and his teammates used that to their advantage throughout the season and compiled an impressive mark of 21 home wins in the process.
“It’s different, it feels smaller, it might be a little bit different feel than most NHL rinks,” he said. “We take pride in playing there, we had a great record there, and hopefully we can use it to our advantage moving forward.”
Schmaltz put an exclamation point on his own season in the team’s final game of the season with his 100th career goal, capping a three-goal Coyotes rally that ultimately forced overtime.
He’s part of the Coyotes’ emerging core of players on offense that includes Keller, Hayton, and Lawson Crouse – coupled with prospects Dylan Guenther and Logan Cooley – and the team may just be scratching the surface of its future offensive prowess.
71 of his 100 goals have come with Arizona, and he’s excited for what the future has in store.
“Every time you score in the NHL it’s exciting,” Schmaltz said. “It’s a tough league to score in, and you’re super happy every time you get to put one in the net.
“Hopefully there’s many more to come.”
Previous Posts in this Series:
2022-23 in Review: Mullett Magic in Full Effect
2022-23 in Review: Armstrong, Tourigny Optimistic with Coyotes’ Growth
2022-23 in Review: Keller Caps Comeback with Record Season
2022-23 in Review: Maccelli’s Season Places him Among NHL’s Best Rookies
2022-23 in Review: Crouse Caps Career Year with Appearance at Worlds
2022-23 in Review: Hayton’s Second Half Surge Nets Career Year
2022-23 in Review: Brown’s Tenacity Results in ‘Step Forward’