Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect much from Jordan Schmaltz

It appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs are really the only team making any sort of transactions this past week or so. Making a total of two trades as August approaches is basically unheard of in the NHL, but Kyle Dubas apparently never sleeps and always can find room to change his team ever so slightly heading into a pressure-filled 2019-20 season.

On Thursday afternoon, the Leafs traded 24-year-old defenceman Andreas Borgman for 25-year-old Jordan Schmaltz. The key factor in this trade — which might be the entire reason for this move — is that Borgman is a left-hand shot, while Schmaltz shoots right.

While Borgman suffered through injuries last season and only played with the Marlies, scoring four goals and 17 points in 45 games, Schmaltz was able to split his time with the Blues and their AHL-affiliate San Antonio Rampage. Playing more in the better league doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is better, since while the new Leaf was in the NHL, he played extremely poor.

It might be a small sample size of 20 games this season with the Blues, but those games a total of 212:16 TOI at even-strength shows us that he might just not be an NHL-calibre defenceman.

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While on the ice, Schmaltz recorded a 41.24 CF% and a 27.78 GF% — teams got the upper hand when he was out there, by a wide margin. Even taking into consideration the quality of chances for both the Blues and their opposition while he was on the ice, that resulted in a below-league average on-ice xGF% of 44.91.

In the most generalist of terms, when Schmaltz is on the ice, he makes his team worse than the opposition. It’s of course not all of his fault, teammate effects as well as the competition he’s faced in that small sample size could have a massive effect.

Especially when the other Blues defencemen that were partnered with Schmaltz during his time in St. Louis. His two most common linemates last season were Jay Bouwmeester (68:03 TOI) and Joel Edmundson (44:37 TOI), two fairly immobile skaters to begin with and having a inexperienced player to the right of them just made things worse.

When Schmaltz was paired with either player, he saw his corsi for percentage decrease by a significant margin. With Bouwmeester for example, the pairing together had a horrid 37.19 CF% at 5v5, while Schmaltz had a 46.19 CF% during his time spent away from the 35-year-old defenceman.

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All of this is not enough sample size to truly get a feel for what Schmaltz is as a player, but it’s enough to assume that he won’t suddenly become a solid enough player to make a difference on a blueline. Especially when the team acquiring him has a certain contention window laid out for them and wants to incrementally improve at any position that they can.

At least there was one positive that can be found in Schmaltz’s performance last season.

viz by Sean Tierney / data by Corey Sznajder

Manually tracked through many grueling hours of having to watch the St. Louis Blues, Corey Sznajder has been tracking zone entries and exits for the past few seasons. During Schmaltz’s time in St. Louis with the Blues last season, he was able to get a significant amount of clean zone exits with possession of the puck. Meaning that he was able to carry the puck from his own defensive zone out beyond the blue line, into the neutral zone and make a play from there.

The only down side with this, is that he was also able to be below league-average when it came to breaking up oncoming plays — the other side of defending the blue line and keeping opposing players from entering your own zone.

It’s not monumental one way or the other, but just one little tidbit of information that could swing some positive thinking for this trade.

All in all, this trade won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Schmaltz is essentially a massive right-handed security blanket in case fellow-righty Justin Holl doesn’t impress Babcock as much.

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He can provide some mobility and useful puck transition, but when he’s on the ice, his team has been trending in the wrong direction and has given up an incredible amount of scoring chances. But the main thing is certain, just don’t expect this to be a massive win for the Leafs in any shape or form.

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  • killerkash

    Well let’s not forget the fact the Blues were a dead last team when he was with him last year and playing along side Boumeester at that juncture was like playing with a pylon. Besides, Hakstol was his coach in college and must think highly of this guy in order to recommend him to his new employer that they should trade for him. I don’t have any proof that was the case but I highly doubt that Dubas would have pulled the trigger without Hakstol’s consultation at the very least.
    That being said, he has a new lease on life and a clean slate with an opportunity to become a full time nhler and possibly land a starting role on the 3rd pairing. At the very worst he’s added competition for others trying to make it as well.

    • getrdone

      My thoughts as well, he played for the Blues when they could not stop a beach ball. This guy was a first round pick, so the possibility of upside is certainly there, Borgman was a Maple Leaf find in Sweden, to me this is a good trade, not an earth shaker, but one with good potential.

  • Stan Smith

    While Schmaltz will be one of the 8 players I see battling it out for the 6th spot on the Leafs D and a temporary replacement for Dermott, until he is healthy’ Looking at his overall numbers, I can’t realistically see Schmaltz making the roster. I think he is more a depth move for the Marlies. I know he has a previous relationship with Dave Hakstol, and he is a righty, but I would tag him as a definite longshot to make the team.

    I also wonder if, seeing as he will be 26 by the start of the season, if he could be taking Holl’s place in the pressbox. Just speculating here but, this could have all happened because Borgman might have requested a trade, knowing he was not in the Leafs plans, or they could be ultimately helping Holl to move on for the same reasons.

  • magesticRAGE

    I’m thinking that that one of the reasons for the trade was in preparation for the expansion draft next year, making sure he has players that match the criteria, in hopes to retain as much of roster as possible.

  • Wordsmith

    I think in time you may end up looking bad on this one. I see a good-sized RD with high-end puck moving ability (the chart shows him as good as the best on a great defence) who’s learning to play the position. On break-ups, sure he was only at 5%, but the best, Parayko, with his great size, was only 12%. What he needs, like positioning, can be taught, if he’s up to learning it. What he has, size, handedness, passing ability and puck smarts, is rare. Give him time, he could be a good one, certainly worth the trade for an International free agent with health issues who’d been passed on the depth chart. Not to criticize Borgman, but this was a very sound trade.