Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 NHL Draft Preview: Ty Smith

Hi everybody, and welcome back to our look at the 2018 NHL Draft coming up in June.

Today we look at Ty Smith.

Left-shooting defenseman for the Spokane Chiefs, WHL

5'10" 170 lbs
69 games, 14G 59A 73 points

His draft rankings as of today are:
HockeyProspect - #14
ISS Hockey - #11
FutureConsiderations - #7
McKeens - #16
NHL Central Scouting - #14 (NA Skaters)

I wanted to start this write-up off by saying that I'm biased here. Ty Smith is my guy in the in...if on the off chance he's still available at #17, I would have to imagine the Devils staff sprinting up to the podium.

Anyways let's get started.

Ty Smith was a former 1st overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft by Spokane. His mobility and skating is exceptional and he is poised and comfortable when handling the puck. His skating significantly helps him and he recognizes how to use it...whether that be using his agility, edgework, and pivoting to cover large areas on the ice...or joining the attack, etc. Whatever needs to be done, wherever on the ice, Smith will be there to either get it done directly or support his teammates. His acceleration is elite and helps him gain separation when walking the blue line in the offensive zone or starting the breakout in his own zone.

Offensively, Smith moves the puck extremely well, and has the vision and smarts to be able to find teammates, and the ability to deliver crisp tape-to-tape passes. Smith has a good slap shot, and he has a strong tendency to not wind up too much for a shot - keeping the puck low in hopes of a deflection or rebound. He's really improved his slap shot strength over the course of the season. This and his excellent wrist shot make him a dangerous option from the point. I also really like his ability as a stick handler who can read the play. He's very versatile and can lead the rush or work in as a trailing attacker. Despite all these very speedy skills, Smith has a very calming presence on the ice. One of the things I like the most about Smith is how doesn't always make the smart play...he makes the *right play*. He's very calculating in his approach to the game, and while some others may not see elite high-end hockey IQ, I would disagree with them. I see a safe player that doesn't take many risks and whose game doesn't require him to take any risks - mostly because he knows where to be on the ice at all times.

While I'm here, before I get into his defensive game, I think the biggest area for improvement in Smith's game is the ability to handle bigger, stronger, and faster forwards on the forecheck. He sometimes struggles against junior players in this regard, so going against professional players could really cause him to struggle. I don't foresee him in the NHL next year, as he'll take one more year to bulk up in the WHL. These are really the only concerns about his game, and one of the alleged concerns is not even one I share. (Actually my biggest concern is that he'll end up playing for NYI, but that's up to the draft gods...)

Ty Smith's defensive play is as close to flawless as you can get for a draft-eligible defenseman. His positioning is immaculate and stick work are exceptional, and his ability to start the transition is fantastic. Smith's defensive play one-on-one is as good as it gets among this class.  As you may be able to see from the statsheet, Smith has some muscle to build on his lower-body, which will allow him to be better in the corners and in front of the net. The best aspect of Smith's defensive game is his skating, which helps him with gap control and allows him to gain extra space from attackers when he does get possession of the puck. While Smith is somewhat undersized, he doesn't shy away from gritty, physical play. He's not afraid to take the body, however it's not his initial instinct to do so.

For those looking for buzzwords, Ty Smith's skating and overall game is extremely dynamic. I'm really really surprised that Smith isn't ranked higher up on the main scouting draft boards, but I'll take it. I'm each team's boards vary greatly between each other, and when put up against certain scouting agencies, but Smith, while not a sure-fire NHL player, has a skillset and the IQ to be a contender for the Norris trophy through his career. His stock may be slightly dropping from a non-eye-popping U18 championship performance, but anybody who is making assumptions about his future potential based on this tournament and not his WHL season is sorely mistaken.

Ultimately I think Smith will be taken by Chicago at #8 or by NYI at either #11 or #12. However, if he were to fall to #17, what the Devils would be getting is a defenseman (one of the youngest in the draft...only 21 players are younger than Smith in the draft) with elite skating and definite top-pairing two-way potential. Smith has logged some major minutes for Team Canada at international tournaments before, and has the potential to be able to log 22-23 minutes a game at the NHL level. I try to be as unbiased as possible in my evaluations, but I can't speak enough praise about what I've seen from Ty Smith.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Ty Smith. Thank you so much for reading!

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