Over the years, the Red Wings organization has put a strong emphasis on drafting skilled players who what scouts call an “NHL-build.” This term is obviously coined for prospects who have the size to compete at the professional level. Whether you agree or disagree with this mantra, the Red Wings have latched onto it over the last couple of drafts with guys like Anthony Mantha, and Evgeny Svechnikov leading the pack. Detroit found themselves with two 2nd-round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft, and at 46th overall, they drafted Givani Smith — A huge power-winger out of Thornhill, Ontario.
Position: Right Wing
Born: February 28, 1998
Weight: 204 lbs
Smith played for arguably one of the worst teams in the entire CHL with the Guelph Storm, but managed to put up a semi-impressive stat line (42 points in 65 games). He’s not a flashy player by any means, he uses his strength and size very well for a kid his age. He’s certainly got the build for an NHL player, but there are a few things he’ll need to round out before he makes a step into professional hockey. “To make it to the NHL, I think it’s just my acceleration. I’ll be working on it all this summer,” Smith told me at the Draft. I’d have to say that his acceleration is certainly something that needs work. His agility is exceptional, and he’s a force when he’s at full speed, it’s just getting those first few steps developed to increase his speed out of the gate.
Smith has an infectious personality. When speaking to him at the Draft, his smile was ear-to-ear, and you could tell that he’s a special player not only on the ice, but off it as well. The Red Wings obviously had seen something in Givani Smith, as they had been scouting him extensively throughout the 2015-2016 regular season. “I have a big frame, I like to wear forwards down, I like to wear defensemen down along the boards to create space” — There’s no wonder the Red Wings were so high on him, he’s an in-your-face player that can also act as an offensive threat.
Smith has ties in the Red Wings organization with former teammate and soon-to-be NHLer Tyler Bertuzzi. “I missed that guy a lot,” Smith told me at the Draft, and their chemistry together at Red Wings Development Camp certainly showed that they could one day be a great pair to have in this core.
“I like to model myself after Wayne Simmonds,” Smith said. “I like to go to the net, I like to score goals, I like to finish my checks. I’m not all about the physical game. I like to consider myself a power-forward type player.” While these are certainly all great attributes for the young Toronto-native to have, one thing Smith will need to improve is his discipline on the ice. Smith was the OHL’s most-penalized player in 2015-2016, and that’s something that typically doesn’t translate well to the NHL for obvious reasons.
All-in-all, Givani Smith is your prototypical big-bodied power winger. It will be interesting to see how his next season in the OHL pans out with Guelph being such a mess as of late. I’d expect he may end up traded to another club at some point before he moves to the AHL. I’m really interested to see what Smith will look like as a net-front guy. If he keeps his game simple, and stays out of the penalty box, he’s a great asset to have as a possible bottom-six winger. He’s not all grit and physicality, he’s got offensive upside — But like many prospects the Red Wings draft, he’ll need a bit of time to develop into what they want him to be.