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2018 NHL Draft Profile: Ty Smith

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Ty Smith is the best in the West; so why isn’t he being talked about more?

Spokane Chiefs v Edmonton Oil Kings Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

The Numbers

Position: Defense

Age on Draft Day: 18

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 176 lbs.

2017-2018 Stats: 69 GP, 73 points (14-59—73)

Projection: Top-four two-way defenseman

If ever there was an organizational need right now in Detroit, it would be a mobile, puck-moving defenseman. Well, Ty Smith is exactly that. The 18-year-old has elite skating ability and is very much in the mix as the next best blueline prospect in this draft not named Rasmus Dahlin — but, we know the Red Wings won’t get their shot at him because the Buffalo Sabres can’t possibly screw that up, right? After racking my brain around numerous mock draft boards, it’s easy to see Ken Holland settling on Adam Boqvist or Evan Bouchard with the sixth overall pick (of course, I use the word “settling” loosely). Both of these prospects have similar traits in their game to Smith, so the Wings’ front office really can’t go wrong with any of these blue chip defenders.

-When it comes to the talk around Smith, I definitely feel that people truly undervalue him as a player and his inclusion as a top 10 pick. I’ve seen it pick up a lot in the last month with draft talk coming to the focal point that there are theories about the draft order drastically shifting within the top 10 and the 15-50 picks being all over the map. While this may be true to an extent, what merit can consumers of draft content put on this? Within the last month there is nothing but the individual performances at the draft combine and the recency of Noah Dobson having a dominant Memorial cup to benchmark these players, some of which haven’t played since late March or early April. The auditions have been done and besides wild speculation and public opinion, nothing is going to change what goes on inside a team’s draft meetings this coming week. A lot of the talk I have seen and heard has been centered around Dobson, Hughes, Boqvist and Bouchard, with analysts splitting hairs about the order they may go. It is no detriment to Smith’s ability as to him not be included in said discussions, whatever team gets him is going to have a stud player in the fold and he may very well outperform some of those drafted before him. He did some remarkable things this season for the Chiefs both offensively and as a charismatic leader on a team full of NHL draft picks. As far as I am concerned, he is right there with that solid group of defenders. It is a solid draft for defense to choose from at the top and he is right in that mix in my eyes.
-Justin Froese, Future Considerations

The native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan has a great head on his shoulders and really sees the ice well to make crisp outlet passes. He’s an excellent skater that demonstrates poise and patience with the puck and would be a welcomed edition to the Wings powerplay at the NHL level.

- I understand that there has been and likely will be to some extent a stigma that smaller defenders can’t shore up their own end to the ability of a larger player at the next level. While it does seem awfully hard to believe every average/small sized player will be able to match up with an NHL sized power forward, Smith doesn’t concern me when looking at past and present at peers. Smith’s ability to think rapidly and defend with this feet disallows space and helps him keep gaps tight, while he forces turnovers thanks to opportune stick work and forces play to the perimeter. Match up situations are more of a strategy game for him as he tries to stay on the offensive side of his opponent and keep his stick free as to not get in a wrestling match over a loose puck. Same as in board battles, positioning is key and he knows how to cater to his strengths. Not to say he doesn’t need to add beef to his frame and adapt some snarl, but he has honed his defensive game playing as an underdog already in these situations.
-Justin Froese, Future Considerations

You might not be impressed by Smith’s size, but he makes up for it with his quickness and offensive prowess. He plays in all situations, including quarterbacking the powerplay and logging big minutes 5-on-5 against the oppositions best. Smith is disciplined, patient and extremely aware of his surroundings on the ice — all great traits to adapt to the pro game.

Bottom Line

He’s going to be a Top-4 pairing defenseman with high-end offensive upside — likely somewhere between Torey Krug and Shayne Gostisbehere — there’s just no denying that. Will he be in a Wings uniform on Friday night? It’s hard to say. There are so many ties with this front office to Boqvist (it must be a Swedish thing) that it makes me wonder if a guy like Smith is even in play for them? However, Holland has alluded to the possibility of trading back in this draft and collecting more assets (he already has 11 picks in this draft...yes, 11) and who knows what he’s thinking come draft night? But, if he does pull the trigger and move back then I wouldn’t be upset if Smith fell right into their laps. The Wings have plenty of defensive depth coming through the system and adding another potential stud can’t hurt. My guess is that if Holland stays put and takes Boqvist, then Smith will fall to the Edmonton Oilers or New York Islanders — two teams also in need of a puck-moving defenseman.

- While the obvious thing to say about Smith’s best ability is his cerebral style of play, the root of it all is his elite hockey IQ. Smith was a dynamo offensively and also plays a tidy defensive game thanks to his ability to “get out ahead” of opponents and think not just outside the box on certain plays, but his exhibit his ability to see the game unfold at his speed so that he look more proactive than reactive. The fact that he is so proficient skill wise ties it all together.

- While he is already well rounded and has few things to harp on him about, I do think gaining lean body mass is key. As stated in a previous question, it’s going to happen, but it will also make him more resilient when going through the grind of playing against men who are on the same mental and skill level as him. For me, I see a lot of Duncan Keith in my projections. A big minutes two way defender who at times focuses only on the small things to make a difference but will change the outlook of a game by asserting his skillset. His leadership skills and smarts are huge assets and he has the ability to be a pillar on and NHL defensive core.
-Justin Froese, Future Considerations

Editor’s note: a big thanks to Justin Froese, the Head Western Scout at Future Considerations for his extended analysis on Ty Smith. Give him a follow on Twitter: @FroeseFC.