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I recently looked at five potential 1st round targets for the New Jersey Devils
in this month's draft.
After that, I received a lot of questions about Ty Smith being omitted from the list.
The simple answer is I didn't think he'd be available at No. 17. I'm still not sold, however, it does't seem as far fetched as it once did.
For whatever reason (lack of size, U18 performance, whatever) he seems to be slipping down some boards as we get closer to the draft. I don't think he should be.
Statistically, his season was impressive as pretty much any defender in this class.
Among draft eligible CHL defenders, only Evan Bouchard recorded more points. The same can be said about 5v5 points. In terms of 5v5 points per 60, Smith ranked 3rd to Bouchard and Noah Dobson, both of whom will almost certainly be selected in the top-10.
As impressive as Smith's production is, his on-ice numbers may be even better. At 5v5, Spokane out-scored their opponents 93(!!) to 54 with him patrolling the blue line. That's a plus-39 differential. For perspective, Noah Dobson ranked 2nd at plus-31, Rasmus Sandin 3rd at plus-29, etc.
Smith's 63.27 Goals For% ranked 1st among CHL draft eligible defenders to appear in at least 40 games. Smith's 18.16 Relative Goals For% was also good for 1st.
I'm not just high on Smith because of his numbers. He passes the eye test, too.
Smith is a very good puck mover. He's patient, and smart, enough to wait for lanes to develop before making a play rather than forcing it. He can skate. His positioning is solid and he's generally pretty aggressive defending the blue line. There's a lot to like.
Does he get out-muscled at times? Sure. Could he be a little better defensively? Sure, although it's far from a weakness. Nevertheless, the good far outweighs the bad, as evidenced by his ridiculously impressive 5v5 numbers.
If a dynamic forward like Grigori Denisenko, Rasmus Kupari or (somehow) Vitali Kravtsov is still available at 17, that's the route I'd go because I believe in drafting the best player available and, to me, their ceilings are at least a little higher.
If none of those three are there, and Smith is, he'd sure be a great consolation prize. I prefer him to Rasmus Sandin (though I *love* his game), Bode Wilde, Alexander Alexeyev and the other blue liners expected to go in the mid-to-late 1st.
Five potential 1st round draft targets for the Devils
On the possibility of trading down and Ilya Kovalchuk
What about Noah Hanifin?
The Devils should not pursue John Carlson in free agency
The Devils should inquire about Nino Niederreiter
The Devils should target Calvin de Haan
Could the Devils trade Damon Severson?
Miles Wood drastically improved in 2017-18
The Devils should let Brian Gibbons test free agency
Pavel Zacha has been one of NHL's best penalty killers since entering the league
It's time to walk away from John Moore