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Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz to miss rest of season with lower-body injury

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (8) tries to keep the puck away from Colorado Avalanche left wing Matt Nieto (83) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz will be out for the rest of the 2018-19 season after suffering a lower-body injury, the team announced on Tuesday.

Schmaltz was previously listed as “week-to-week” and has not played since Dec. 30 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

His season ends after just 40 games — only 17 of those with the Coyotes — as the 22-year-old was traded to Arizona by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini. In his 17 games since the trade, he scored five goals with nine assists for 14 points, seven of those points on the power play.

This latest blow only adds to a growing list of injuries the Coyotes have had to deal with this season. Center Christian Dvorak has not played a game yet, defenseman Jason Demers and goaltender Antti Raanta are out indefinitely, Michael Grabner has missed time with an eye injury and Kevin Connauton is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That’s without mentioning other players who are no longer injured but have missed time this season.

In the Coyotes’ last game on Sunday, the absence of Schmaltz prompted a lineup that had Derek Stepan, Brad Richardson, Nick Cousins and Mario Kempe as the team’s four centers. That has been the case since Schmaltz first went down.

“Listen, and I can say ‘What ifs,’ and all that stuff, but when we were healthy, we were playing well,” head coach Rick Tocchet said on Friday. “And then obviously this rash of injuries and then all of a sudden, people get played in different positions and stuff like that.”

“Now, we got — we’re overplaying some people. It is what it is. You’ve got to take your lumps and you’ve got to be battle-tested. It is what it is. You’ve got to come with energy.”

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