The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired 25-year-old right-shot defenseman Jordan Schmaltz in return for Andreas Borgman, the club announced on Thursday.
A converted defenseman entering college, Schmaltz played under now-Leafs assistant coach Dave Hakstol for the University of North Dakota (64 points in 125 games), leaving UND after three years at the same time that Hakstol departed for the Philadelphia Flyers head coaching job. Hakstol will be running the defense pairings on the Leafs bench this season, so Schmaltz may have something of a leg up over the competition for the final right defense spot — which as of now is basically just Justin Holl, with an outside shot that Timothy Liljegren could mount a push in camp.
Schmaltz has the tools to match his first-round pick pedigree (25th overall, 2012) as a capable puck handler and distributor who can make a first pass, jump up offensively, and quarterback a power play at the college and the AHL levels. He also has some size to him at 6’2, 200+ pounds. In 2017-18, he looked to be on his way to establishing himself as an NHL player with nine appearances for the Blues (two points, 50.9 CF%) and 23 points in 31 AHL games for San Antonio.
The 2018-19 season — Schmaltz’s first year of waiver eligibility after signing a two-year, $700,000 AAV contract that ends with Schmaltz becoming an RFA again in 2020 — was a bit of a step back. Even though he appeared in a career-high 20 NHL games, he put up just two points, was a minus-seven, and posted a 42.4 CF% on a Blues team that was struggling immensely in the first half of the year. He spent a fair amount of time as a healthy scratch with the Blues before passing through waivers without a claim in January, and he was considerably less productive in the AHL (nine points in 36 games, -22) on a poor San Antonio team in the second half of the year.
The emergence of rookie defenseman Mitch Reinke, who finished tied for third in the AHL in power play goals among blue liners in his first year out of college, as well as the addition of highly-productive veteran AHL defenseman Joey Laleggia meant that Schmaltz was not receiving the same level of offensive opportunity this season with Blues’ farm club.
Kyle Dubas would have had a good contact to call on for information about what went on with Schmaltz in San Antonio this past season; Drew Bannister, the former Soo Greyhounds head coach, took over the bench for the Rampage in 2018-19 and was joined by assistant coach Ryan Ward, who worked for Dubas with the Marlies and then the Leafs as a video coach before returning to the Soo to work as an assistant for Bannister, who then took Ward with him back to the AHL.
On a Blues team that includes Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Robert Bortuzzo down the right side on defense along with Reinke emerging as a future NHLer, Schmaltz was drowned out in the depth chart and there was not much of an NHL future remaining for him in St. Louis. In Toronto, his prospects are considerably brighter as far as earning a job out of camp this Fall with only Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci as locks on the right side of the blue line currently. This is a huge camp for Holl, and it’s possible the Leafs would look at Martin Marincin on the right (it’s not pretty, but he has filled in there before), but the Leafs obviously needed more options and competition at the position.
The departed Andreas Borgman, a left shot, was not without potential big-club value, either, and also offered some NHL tools with his size, strength, mobility, and reasonable first-pass ability; the biggest concern has been his ability to stay healthy, having battled concussion issues multiple times in recent seasons. With Travis Dermott out hurt and Calle Rosen moved in the Tyson Barrie deal, this camp stood as his best opportunity of making the team since he originally crossed the pond from Sweden to Toronto back in 2017 and made the opening-night roster. That said, with Dermott hopefully returning sometime in the first half of the season and Martin Marincin, Ben Harpur, and Kevin Gravel — with an outside shot Rasmus Sandin could make a push in camp — there as cover (albeit not overly comforting cover) in the meantime, there is no doubt the bigger need was on the right side of the Leafs depth chart than the left.
With this move plus the seven minor signings announced yesterday, the Leafs are inching ever closer to a complete roster picture entering the 2019-20 season — with one major RFA situation still outstanding.
Jordan Schmaltz Statistics
|2006-07-01||Chicago Mission Bantam Minor AAA||T1EMBHL||31||12||11||23||4||||
|2007-08-01||Chicago Mission Bantam Major AAA||T1EBHL||29||6||14||20||20||||
|2008-09-01||Chicago Mission U16||T1EHL U16||25||3||10||13||33||||
|2009-10-01||Chicago Mission U18||T1EHL U18||39||10||21||31||30||||
|U.S. National U17 Team||USDP||11||2||0||2||0||||
|Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||2||0||0||0||4||1||||
|2010-11-01||Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||53||13||31||44||22||0|||||Playoffs||3||0||1||1||4||-1|
|2011-12-01||Sioux City Musketeers “A”||USHL||9||3||3||6||9||-4||||
|Green Bay Gamblers||USHL||46||7||28||35||20||15|||||Playoffs||12||2||5||7||8||10|
|2012-13||Univ. of North Dakota||NCAA||42||3||9||12||31||9||||
|2013-14||Univ. of North Dakota||NCAA||41||6||18||24||12||1||||
|2014-15||Univ. of North Dakota||NCAA||42||4||24||28||8||11||||
|2016-17||St. Louis Blues||NHL||9||0||2||2||4||0|||||Playoffs||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|2017-18||St. Louis Blues||NHL||13||0||1||1||6||0||||
|San Antonio Rampage||AHL||31||5||18||23||20||9||||
|2018-19||St. Louis Blues||NHL||20||0||2||2||2||-7||||
|San Antonio Rampage||AHL||36||1||8||9||20||-22||||