DISCLAIMER: There was a three-way tie for this spot between Ty Smith, Bode Wilde, and Barrett Hayton. Considering I don’t think anyone would have expected a tie between two players let alone three, there wasn’t really a measure in place for what to do in this case. So the winner was picked by who of the three had been on the poll the longest, and that was Ty Smith. So, now with that out of the way, let’s learn about the defenseman selected at the Flyers pick of 14th overall.
BSH 2018 Community Draft Board, No. 14: Ty Smith
Position / Team: D / Spokane Chiefs, WHL
2017-18 Statistics: 14 G, 59 A in 69 GP
Size: 5’10” 170
What’s there to like?
Ty Smith’s greatest attribute is without a doubt, his hockey IQ. Smith has a knack for seeing plays develop and finding the open man, or taking the perfect angle on an attacking forward in the corner. He is, in my opinion, the best draft prospect that no one is really talking about.
While he doesn’t have blazing speed, Smith is an incredible skater and a big reason for that is how much he keeps his head up. He’s always looking ahead for passing lanes to develop or that long outlet pass to send a teammate on a breakaway. This ability to keep his head up seemingly at all times gives him an edge over many opposing forecheckers. He’s able to slow the game down and speed it up seemingly at will. In doing so, Smith is able to create many controlled zone entries whether it be individually, or with a crisp pass at the line. In the Canada vs. United States game at the U18 World Junior Championships, on multiple occasions on the power play Smith was able to gain the line with speed, then slow the game down and find an open man.
While he’s definitely not going to be all that much of a shooter at the NHL level, his shot is not a weakness. He takes a lot of smart shots as he waits for the open lane to develop then fires a quick wrist shot. He’s got a shot capable of scoring at the NHL level, but I wouldn’t expect 15+ goal seasons from him, assists are most likely going to be his primary source of points. This past season, Smith ranked fifth among WHL defensemen in primary points according to prospect-stats.com and second overall in total points. Per Corey Pronman of The Athletic, “his scoring numbers in the WHL this season were the best by a 17-year defenseman in over 15 years”.
Also, due to the wonderful work by The Athletic’s Mitch Brown on advanced stats for CHL players, here is a comparison of Smith to highly touted Evan Bouchard, Smith holds his own very well.
His defensive zone coverage is something that really won’t need to be addressed all that much in his development. His stick work is exceptional as he’s able to block off passing lanes seemingly with ease.
What’s not to like?
The major flaw with Smith at the moment is his size. Weighing in at just 170 pounds, he’ll definitely need to bulk up a bit before he’s NHL ready in that regard. It is really the only thing holding him back from being able to consistently recover the puck in his own zone. His angles and positioning are fantastic, but he’s unable to knock the bigger forwards off the puck.
Sometimes Smith does have a tendency to slow the game down too much, as he’ll get caught from behind trying to move the puck up. I don’t see this being a major issue, but it’s something he could absolutely work on.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
Smith for me is either 1a or 1b with Phil Myers in terms of defense prospects. This is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class (if you couldn’t tell already), and I think he’s going to be a steal when he inevitably slides out of the top 10.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
It definitely looks like it at this point. In my mind he’s a top 10 talent but from what we’ve been seeing it looks like he’ll be right there for the picking at 14th overall. I highly doubt he’d slip to 19 so the Flyers would probably have to use the 14th on him.
Evan Bouchard is considered a consensus top 10 pick, and Smith appears to be the better overall defenseman (stats wise). His numbers compared to Noah Dobson — another consensus top 10 pick — are also pretty favorable. (Note that SEAL stands for Situational, Era, Age, and League, and is a fancy stat tool that attempts to value scoring rates by accounting for which league they’re in. Another fun note in all of this number goulash is that, apparently, defensemen scoring rates stay afloat better than forward scoring rates as players move up to tougher leagues.):
Smith produced quite a number of points in the WHL, which will be analyzed later. Being the man who has the puck on his stick for so many plays will result in racking up assists. In the offensive zone, Smith does a great job leading a 1-3-1 powerplay. He is a smart, efficient passer who makes smooth passes to his flanks, and knows how to spot open shooting lanes and put a clean wrister towards the net for either a screen goal, deflection, or rebound chance. I also noticed that he loves to be the third or fourth man on a transition rush, providing a high passing option or at least another body the outnumbered defense has to worry about. Here are a couple of examples.
Highlights (video credit to Hockey Prospects Center):
Back to adding two to the poll with the additions of offensive defenseman Ryan Merkley, and Russian forward Vitaly Kravtsov.
Ryan Merkley— D, Guelph Storm (OHL) — 13 G, 54 A in 63 GP
In terms of offensive ability, Merkley is unquestionably elite. When he’s got the puck on his stick he’s one of the most dangerous players in the draft - including the forwards. His puck-handling skills are as good as you’ll see. Some will say Merkley’s defensive game is a question mark. Right now, it’s not even that. His defensive game is not good. Through his first season and a half in the OHL, Merkley tracked as one of the three worst defensive players in the entire OHL. That improved over the past 6 months, but not nearly as much as you’d like to see from such a talented player.
— via Mile High Hockey
Vitaly Kravtsov — RW, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL) — 4 G, 3 A in 35 GP
Vitali Kravtsov is the prototypical Russian off-side power winger. He’s a strong skater who can both challenge D-men on the outside and slow the game down if needed. He’s got an excellent shot and his puck handling is very good. He’s definitely more of a sniper then a playmaker. Kravtsov is a good defensive player given his age and role, he’s far from the “lazy Russian.” He works hard defensively and he’s not inept at it.
— via Blueshirt Banter
2018 BSH Community Draft Board
- Rasmus Dahlin — D, Frolunda (SHL) (no vote)
- Andrei Svechnikov — RW, Barrie (OHL) (60% of the vote)
- Filip Zadina — LW, Halifax (QMJHL) (74%)
- Brady Tkachuk — LW, Boston University (NCAA) (57%)
- Oliver Wahlstrom — C/RW, USNTDP (USHL) (40%)
- Quinn Hughes — D, Michigan University (NCAA) (50%)
- Adam Boqvist — D, Brynas IF (SHL) (42%)
- Evan Bouchard — D, London (OHL) (49%)
- Noah Dobson — D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) (50%)
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi — C, Assat (Liiga) (34%)
- Joe Veleno — C, Drummondville (QMJHL) (38%)
- Joel Farabee — LW, USNTDP Juniors (USHL) (45%)
- Rasmus Kupari — C, Karpat (Liiga) (31%)
- Ty Smith — D, Spokane (WHL) (22%)
Please use your vote below to answer the following question: If all of the players listed were available when the Flyers were on the clock, who would you want them to pick?
Who should be No. 15 on the 2018 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed