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Schmaltz's Prolific Return On Ice

Nick Schmaltz produced handily during first full season with the Coyotes, leading the team in scoring with 45 points

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Nick Schmaltz was on pace to set a personal record for points when the league paused on March 12.

The 24-year-old forward had totaled a team-leading 45 points with 11 goals and a career-high 34 assists. Schmaltz also became a go-to shootout option for the Coyotes. He is tied for the third-most shootout goals (4) in the league this year; he is tied for first in game-deciding shootout goals (3).

"I was excited to be back [playing] after a long time off with the injury," he said Tuesday. Schmaltz had missed the final four months of the 2018-19 season with a lower-body injury.

He scored 14 points (5G, 9A) in his first 17 games with the Coyotes, following a Nov. 25 trade to Arizona from the Blackhawks.

"I thought I started off really well," he said. "I didn't love my game in the middle of the season so much, but I felt toward the end I was trending in the right direction. I thought I was playing well, that I really completed my game as a 200-foot player - which I want to be. So, hopefully whenever we resume, I can continue that and try to help the team as much as I can."

The Coyotes were only four points shy of a playoff berth with 12 games left on the schedule, including eight at home.

"We had a good mix of veterans and young guys bringing energy when we needed it, just a good, fun group that all had the same goal in mind from day one -- getting into the playoffs, being in that playoff hunt down the stretch. Who knows what would have happened?

"We had a lot of home games left and we were starting to play really well at home," he added. "A lot of big games [to play], a lot of divisional games, so you never really know until you play those games, but we felt good as a group, and it would've been a fun stretch."

Video: ARI@NJD: Schmaltz snipes wrist shot in off the post

Schmaltz said he typically takes four weeks off after any given season, a hiatus that already has passed. He has no access to ice, but he's staying in shape through exercise at home and extended walks or hikes.

Of course, he's staying in touch with teammates. 

"A lot of the younger guys, whether it's Chychrun, Dvorak, Keller, Fischer, Hinostroza … we have a little group chat where we talk pretty much every day," he said. "We have a team-wide group chat as well. But that's more figuring out what's going on -- updates on what's happening; any news from the NHLPA or NHL as far as where we're going, or a prediction of what's going to happen. So, we've stayed in pretty good contact.

"I mean, none of us have really been through something like this, it's pretty wild. We're thankful for everyone, people putting their safety on the line to make sure we're doing alright. When this is all over, we'll look back at it and be thankful for where we are and the game we get to play in front of the fans that support us every night."

Finally, Schmaltz echoed the sentiment of teammates who also have commented on the 2019-2020 season.

 "We had a really fun group, everyone got along really well, and I think that's the biggest thing," he said. "If you can get along together off the ice that brings you closer together on the ice."

Lead Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images // Second Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images

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