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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications, Published June 22 2012

UND recruit Schmaltz taken with 25th pick of NHL draft

GRAND FORKS - Make it 10 first-round picks in the last 10 years.

UND incoming freshman defenseman Jordan Schmaltz went No. 25 overall in the first round to the St. Louis Blues on Friday night, marking the program’s latest first-round NHL draft pick.

Schmaltz hugged family members, shook hands with UND assistant coaches Dane Jackson and Brad Berry, then walked up to the podium in Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center to put on a Blues jersey.

“It’s just a great feeling,” Schmaltz told media members. “Just to hear your name called, it’s pretty surreal. I’m excited and it’s awesome. I couldn’t be happier.”

Schmaltz is UND’s 16th first-round pick ever, but the program has had a big run recently since moving into the new Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND’s last first-rounders came in 2010, when Derek Forbort and Brock Nelson both went in the top 30 picks.

Most draft experts pegged Schmaltz as a late first-round pick or an early second-round pick.

“The one thing we really love about the kid is he’s a top-four defenseman,” Blues scouting director Bill Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s got some high-end skill on the power play. That was one of the strongest things that we liked about him — that he can run a power play from the top.”

UND coach Dave Hakstol said he was excited for Schmaltz.

“He’s going to a great spot,” Hakstol said, “a great organization with a great track record for building their organization and a great track record of developing young players into their organizations.

“They’ve done a good job building their team from within. Their scouting staff and entire organization felt like he was an outstanding prospect, extremely talented and a guy that has shown outstanding development year in and year out.”

Draft experts expect that development to continue at UND.

NBC and TSN analyst Pierre McGuire told the television audience, “He’s going to the right school. They develop pros.”

Schmaltz said: “It’s the best place for me to develop. They have great coaches there with coach Hak and Brad Berry coming back. It’s a great place to play. The facilities are unbelievable. Their strength coach Mark Poolman is great. It’s the best path for me and it’s going to help me develop.”

The Blues last selected a UND player in the first round in 2005, when they picked T.J. Oshie at No. 24. Oshie led the Blues in scoring this season and showed his excitement about their pick Friday night.

“Congrats to Jordan Schmaltz!! I need all the Nodak boys I can get in Stl,” Oshie posted on Twitter.

Schmaltz said Oshie, along with Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, were among his idols growing up.

With Schmaltz, UND’s top six defensemen next season will all be NHL draft picks. Forbort and Schmaltz are first-rounders, Dillon Simpson is a fourth-rounder, Nick Mattson is a sixth-rounder and Joe Gleason and Andrew MacWilliam are seventh-rounders.

“We’re going to see a real efficient defenseman,” Hakstol said. “Jordan defends with his feet, his stick and his intelligence. I think what you’ll see is a guy who defends pretty efficiently that way. Most importantly, every time the puck is on his tape, it’s out of trouble. It’s going to a position of strength coming out of the zone, going up ice. Add to that, he has a high-end offensive skill package and I think that’s what we will see as the year progresses.”


Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to bschlossman@gfherald.com.