Denver Heartbreaker Leaves Grand Forks

The exodus continues at North Dakota.

UND’s Nick Schmaltz, who delivered the fatal blow to Denver’s title hopes with less than a minute left in regulation at the Frozen Four semifinals in Tampa has officially signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.

His last minute goal against Denver in the Frozen Four was the game winner and sent UND to the national championship game.

He joins five other former Fighting Hawks to sign an NHL contract since the end of the season to include forward Drake Caggiula (Edmonton), junior center Luke Johnson (Chicago) and junior defensemen Paul LaDue (Los Angeles), Troy Stecher (Vancouver) and Keaton Thompson (Anaheim).

Schmaltz’s signing means that he has decided to forego his final two years of college eligibility, much to the delight of crimson and gold clad college hockey fans. Paired with the departure of graduating senior Drake Caggiula, North Dakota has lost two-thirds of the vaunted ‘CBS Line.’

Brock Boeser, the only remaining member of North Dakota’s top scoring line, is a draftee of the Vancouver Canucks. Now that his two linemates have left, you have to wonder whether the Canucks will put forth a renewed effort to sign the reigning NCHC Rookie of the Year. He pledged via Twitter that he plans to stay for his sophomore year, but a lot can change between now and the August 15th deadline.

North Dakota often rebounds from personnel losses, and looking at their incoming recruiting class, this year should be no exception, but there is no doubt that these departures will put a dent in their chances to repeat.