The NHL Draft continues to creep closer and closer, and while Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils probably have a short list of players they’d like, we have no idea who any of them are. While we will be finding out soon enough, we continue here at AAtJ to speculate and profile players; today, we see another player that could fill the left defense position of need in Ty Smith.
Who is Ty Smith?
Smith was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada on March 24, 2000, making him 18 years old as he heads for the draft. He’s a bit undersized, currently listed at 5’10” and 170 pounds, but this seems to aid the mobility which is a large part of his game. Speaking of his game, Smith has been a member of the Spokane Chiefs for the past 2 seasons where he has piled up quite a few points; here is the link to his full stats over at Elite Prospects.
Offense is Smith’s forte even though he is a defenseman; his rookie season in the WHL saw him put up 32 points in 66 games, which was just under half a point per game. His totals exploded this year, as he contributed 73 points in 69 games, good for over a point per game. It also seems that the WHL finally started counting shot totals this year (or at least Spokane did) so we can see that Smith’s 14 goals came on 194 shots; a 7% shooting percentage for a defender isn’t anything to scoff at. Spokane only played 7 playoff games, but Smith contributed again with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in that series.
Where is he Ranked?
NHL Central Scouting: #14 (North American Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: #17
Sporting News: #8
ISS Hockey: #19
Dobber Prospects: #8
The Draft Analyst: #5 (as of January - small drop from #4 in September 2017)
TSN (Craig Button): #19
That’s a lot of rankings! Smith is a highly touted prospect, and will most definitely be a first round choice; the only question is where exactly does he go in the first round? Based on the above spread, it seems like it could be anywhere, and that it will boil down to how much a team like him over the other remaining players.
What Others Say About Ty Smith
Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst had this thorough, detailed scouting report on Smith; there’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to break it into two parts:
Instinctive two-way force from the blue line with exceptional hockey sense and a strong desire to join the attack and create chances. Smith’s mobility and vision seem to throw opponents into a state of confusion — his ability to transition quickly from defense to offense is excellent. He’s an effortless skater with strong balance and agility, and he can pivot with the best of them. You’ll rarely see Smith get caught chasing his man or losing positioning, as he makes timely reads and anticipates exactly where the puck will end up.
So for the first half of his report, mobility, vision and skating are brought up, and it seems Smith excels in these areas. We need more defenders in New Jersey that can transition well and also not lose their man in transition
He is a hard, accurate shooter and a pure power play quarterback who works the point with confidence and poise — Smith evades pressing penalty killers with ease and will exploit gaps with crisp, tap-to-tape cross-ice passes. You don’t wan’t to overcommit too much with Smith, as he’ll spin or pirouette his way into a quick dash to the open slot. A clean, reliable three-zone defender with leadership qualities and a team-first attitude, he is exactly the guy you want on the ice to kill a big penalty or lock horns with a top-scoring opponents. Wise beyond his years, Smith is almost destined for NHL longevity and has the potential to be a cornerstone piece and one of the top defenders in the league.
Continuing with the second half of Kournianos’ report, we now see a bit more about Smith in terms of offense, defense and even leadership. I’d love to have another defender that can execute crisp passes to teammates while tacking on some goals as well. It also appears that he can play against anyone on an opposing team, which is always a plus. The last line might hold true and it might not, but if it does, there may be quite a few teams who kick themselves if they pass on Smith.
Ryan Pike of The Hockey Writers also had a nice write-up on Smith, with one piece of it in particular that stood out to me:
The difference in Smith’s game from last season to this one boils down to a couple intermingled factors: experience and confidence. He was able to figure out what did and didn’t work on both sides of the puck as a rookie, and he’s adapted his game to compensate. As a result, he has a lot more confidence in terms of judging risk offensively and is much better at anticipating trouble defensively. He still occasionally over-commits with the puck and has to scramble back to cover odd-man rushes, but those are fewer and much more far between than last season’s Smith saw.
It’s always important for NHL players (or hockey players anywhere for that matter) to learn from their mistakes; it’s how they grow, and how they get better. While some players sit back and lean on one side of their game being good (as Smith maybe could have with his offense), I’d always rather go with a player who is actively trying to better himself. This quality makes Smith an even more enticing draft-able asset.
A Little Video
To give everyone a glimpse/taste of what Smith has to offer, we have a few longer videos today. Our first pair are from Hockey Prospects Center with a highlight package video followed by their scouting report on Smith
I think the more information available and the more opinions you have on a player truly allows you to get a better feel for that player, so I was happy with being able to find these videos, though I am sorry for those reading that today’s videos combine for almost 15 minutes. Our final video is from Hockey Draft Central, where they have footage of Smith’s career-high 7 point game against Prince George:
An Opinion of Sorts
This is a tough section for me to write up today, as I honestly believe Smith will be off the draft board long before New Jersey gets to the podium; then again, maybe writers value him higher than GMs do and I could be looking at this in reverse. I like Smith’s abilities and considering that he fits both an area of weakness as well as the Devils’ style of play, I see no reason not to take him if he’s the BPA when the Devils step up to the podium for the first time in Dallas.
Smith may be one year away from being NHL ready due to his size, but in terms of his awareness and ability to contribute at both ends, his scouting reports make it appear he would succeed in the NHL as soon as next season. His skating ability fits in perfectly with the direction that the NHL is moving in, and his ability transition from one end of the ice to the other means that whoever has him on the ice probably won’t see a lot of odd-man rushes against while he’s out.
The more players you have contributing offensively on your team, the more games you win as well. Smith is one of those players who possesses a good shot and excellent passing ability to set up his teammates; a player like this with say, oh, Taylor Hall could be lethal for years to come. With that is mind, if Smith somehow slips to #17 (or Ray Shero masterminds a way to move up) I think every Devils fan would be happy with him being chosen. Again, he fits our needs, our style and our desire for more high end talent; how often can you say you drafted a player that hits all three of those boxes?
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on Smith as a prospect; do you want him to be the Devils choice if he’s available at #17? Anything in particular that stands out about his game that you are a fan of or not a fan of? Does his lack of size make you want to look elsewhere? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!